Michigan Tech News

Michigan Tech Baja Team Wins Best Design

Phone: 906-487-2354

By Marcia Goodrich


Last Modified 3:24 PM, August 18, 2010

A quarter-mile water crossing during the Endurance Race

August 18, 2010—

Michigan Technological University’s team earned itself a gold at the Baja SAE Rochester competition, held June 10–13 at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York.

The team finished first in the design portion of the Society of Automotive Engineers competition. “That’s a very prestigious award,” said team advisor Brett Hamlin, assistant chair of Engineering Fundamentals. “It’s based on the quality of construction and analysis. The students designed and fabricated the entire vehicle, with the exception of the motor, a 10-hp Briggs and Stratton that no one’s allowed to modify.”

In particular, the students got high marks for their use of nontraditional materials. “For the past couple of years, we’ve been enhancing our use of carbon fiber,” Hamlin said. “We are the first and only team to have used it in suspension components.”

Other Baja SAE competitors have incorporated carbon fiber in their designs, but primarily in cosmetic applications. “We have used it in a functional manner, in components that require both lightness and strength,” said Hamlin.

The team finished 16th overall in a field of 92, a respectable showing. “A lot of the overall score depends on luck,” said Hamlin. “You are racing, and stuff happens when you are racing. So they are pretty happy with their results.”

“The students have worked really hard for the past several years in developing some of our core technologies, learning how to work with composites and improving their skills with computer controlled manufacturing,” Hamlin added. “They put it all together and came up with a very successfully designed and fabricated vehicle.”

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.