April 1, 2021

NDSU engineering club: ‘Hit the ground running’

At NDSU, you can get on the fast track to success.

A perfect example is the NDSU Formula Electric Team, a group of 15 active student members who are building what is described as a “shrunken down, open-wheeled Indy-style race car.”

The electric-powered car is being designed and constructed specifically for an international competition put on by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The team’s goal is to have the car ready for the event in late spring 2022.

When completed, the NDSU car will be about a meter wide and three meters long. It will have a tube frame under the body and will feature a double wishbone suspension and state-of-the-art electronics. The electric motor currently produces 35 kilowatts of power, which will provide rapid acceleration.

Jordan Baker, a fifth-year student majoring in mechanical engineering from Maple Grove, Minnesota, is the team leader. “This club has helped me connect my passion for motor sports with my degree, and to realize that they can co-exist,” he said. “I’m personally getting a lot of experience, and I think it really helps team members prepare for their first internship or first job.”

NDSU has historically competed in the SAE combustion engine competition, and this is the club’s first electric car. The worldwide event really puts the competitors to the test, with a technical inspection; student presentations; and acceleration, skid pad, autocross and endurance events.

“Taking part in SAE and this club helps bridge the gap between what you learn in the classroom and how to apply it in the real world,” said Baker, who is interning for Polaris Inc. and hopes to be a design engineer for the company after graduation. “That’s a huge thing for me; it gives you a head start so you can hit the ground running.”

Baker highly recommends NDSU for potential students who would like engineering careers. You’ll find a welcoming campus and helpful, caring faculty whose goal is student success.

“I can’t speak for other universities but here at NDSU, everybody in the program knows you – that’s pretty nice,” Baker said, adding that his club offers opportunity.

“Our team is smaller than some other schools. That’s a drawback for us in the competition, but it’s a huge benefit to incoming students who want to get involved,” Baker said “They can come in and be an officer right away if they have the drive to do so. At schools with large teams, you have to interview to just get a spot.”

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