As a sponsor of our hometown collegiate engineers in Peoria, Illinois, we’re extremely proud of this determined team from Bradley University! With only six members and a very limited budget, the group did an amazing job at the recent BAJA SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) intercollegiate challenge.
The Baja SAE Competition tests students’ skills
The engineering students were to design, analyze, fabricate, test, and compete with a single seat off road vehicle. Each team was required to use the same 10HP Briggs & Stratton engine. Therefore, much of the challenge in achieving vehicle performance came from engineering a light weight vehicle with capable suspension.
Each year, three host locations are selected for the competition throughout the US. Up to 100 college teams from around the world participate at each contest. The event consists of the following:
- Static Events (cost presentation, sales presentation, and design judging)
- Dynamic Events (brake check, acceleration test, maneuverability, sled pull
- Endurance Race (the capstone of the event is a 4-hour race testing overall performance)
Challenges, determination, and hard work
The Bradley team participated in the Baja SAE at Pittsburgh, Kansas from May 17-20. Overall, the competition went extremely well for the team. They passed the rigorous technical inspection on the first day. No vehicle failures occurred during any of the races. The dynamic events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were hampered by two severe weather evacuations on Saturday. Over two inches of rain fell, resulting in extremely muddy racing conditions. Many vehicles suffered from mechanical issues under these conditions. However, the Bradley vehicle performed exceptionally well, placing 11th in the endurance race. The vehicle weighed in at 750 pounds after the race – including 300 extra pounds of mud! In addition to that, 35 pounds of mud was removed from the clothes and helmet of team member and driver Kyle Caudill.
Bradley University Engineers Score Big
Ninety-two top intercollegiate teams from across the globe competed in Kansas. Bradley finished 61st in acceleration and 47th in sled pull. Moreover, they placed 27th in maneuverability, 12th in suspension, and an astounding 11th place in the endurance race. The suspension event and endurance race are arguably the two most difficult of the entire competition. Understandably, the team was extremely proud to have engineered a vehicle to perform so well under difficult conditions.
The team ranked among some of the best engineering universities that the world has to offer. Some of these teams were comprised of 30 members or more. And several enjoyed budgets well into the five and six figure range. Many also have several years of research & development invested in their cars. In comparison, the young Bradley team has just one prior year of experience.
According to the team, this year’s goal was to simply finish the endurance race, with hopes of breaking into the top 20 finishers. Not only did they finish in 11th place for endurance, they came home with the 19th overall spot for the weekend competition.
According to Caudill, the team recognizes the help and guidance of many behind the scenes, and are grateful for their support. Keystone Steel and Wire’s contribution helped the team purchase a new set of Fox Float 3 Evol RC2 Air Shocks for the front suspension of the car. According to Caudill, “these shocks offered an increased range of adjustability, which allowed the car to be easily tailored to each individual driver on the team. Additionally, these shocks were a few pounds lighter than the ones they replaced. The shocks performed very well at competition and will be used for years to come.”
Keystone Steel & Wire and Red Brand congratulate the Bradley Baja SAE team. Indeed, their dedication, teamwork, determination and preparation all led to their success in Kansas. Way to go!
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