The University of Akron - SAE Baja Team
Student lead team supported by SAE, challenged to design and fabricate an off-roading vehicle powered by a 10hp Briggs and Stratton engine. In order to compete, the car must comply with several safety regulations and size requirements. Competition entails static events such as cost report and face-to-face design evaluation judged by professional mechanical engineers , along with dynamic events such as acceleration, maneuverability, suspension, and a 4 hour endurance race where teams complete as many laps as possible.
For a more detailed overview please click here.
The task of design is divided into subsystems that focus on brakes, drive train, frame, steering, and suspension. The design rules require the vehicle to accommodate a large variety of drivers, while still meeting all safety requirements. Each subsystem must work together to meet team goals. This organization gives members an opportunity to apply concepts from course work to real-life engineering obstacles. We use Solidworks to create a model of the entire car and it’s components. This allows us to compile stress/ strain data and catch potential fabrication issues.
The University of Akron has a machine shop available to students part of a design team for fabrication assistance. We also use a frame table and various jigs for building consistent and precise components. The majority of the components are fabricated by team members that donate countless hours to learn valuable hands on skills. The completed vehicle is tested to determine where improvements can be made to ensure a flawless performance at competition. Part of the design challenge is to allow just the right amount of flexibility in testing.
SAE holds three competitions annually in the United States, where each vehicle must face static and dynamic events. The static events include a technical evaluation, cost evaluation, and vehicle design presentation, judged by professional engineers. The dynamic events include an acceleration run, sled pull event, suspension event, maneuverability course, and finally a four hour endurance race where the goal is to finish as many laps as the car can withstand. These rigorous events challenge not only the completed vehicle, but also the team’s driving ability.