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A confident crew of mechanical engineering students is ready to compete in the 2001 Mini-Baja Competition next month, having completed their vehicle before the semester’s end — well ahead of schedule.

The team is comprised of seniors Louis Rollo, David Campos, Eric Lopez, and Jeff Weinman, and juniors Abid Jeevraj and Farid Khan. Senior Steve Ryder modeled the crash-worthiness of the car for his honors thesis. Laura Ruhala, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the group’s advisor, although virtually all mechanical engineering faculty members offered advice.

In the Mini-Baja program, students function as a team to design, build, test, modify, promote, and race a vehicle. They also are responsible for generating financial support for their project and managing their educational priorities. Other than a motor donated by Briggs & Stratton and some parts purchased from Polaris, the vehicle is solely designed and fabricated by the students.

“This is the third year in a row that Lafayette has entered a car in the competition,” says Rollo. “We’re really excited about that. We have a completely new design, with nothing taken from last year except a few non-essential parts.”

“The whole project is just amazing,” he continues. “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. No team here has been done this early or made this quality of a vehicle. Most teams finish a week before the event.”

This year’s car is more versatile than past years’ Mini-Baja vehicles, traveling in low, high, neutral, and reverse gears. The students also designed independent rear suspension, which facilitates smoother weight transfer. They used Computer Aided Design software to model all components, assembling virtual representations to check for part clearances.

About 100 entries will be judged through a variety of tests from June 1-3 in Troy, Ohio, including an off-road endurance race in which the students will take a hand at driving to see how many laps each team can complete in four hours. Other categories are acceleration and braking, maneuverability, towing, speed, presentation, and design. The 25th annual competition is sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers and Briggs & Stratton.

Categorized in: Academic News