Student members of the NDSU Society of Automotive Engineers are scheduled to compete in the organization's Baja competition May 19-22. The competition, to be held at Western Washington University, features teams from around the world competing to design all-terrain vehicles capable of overcoming obstacles such as rocks, mud and water.
The NDSU vehicle is the senior design project of mechanical engineering majors Lee Kersting, Tim Hertsgaard and Mike Denow.
Kersting is treasurer of NDSU’s chapter. “I really enjoyed the whole design process and seeing our design take shape as a finished product,” said Kersting, who is from St. Cloud, Minn. “The project has really taught me a lot about project management and the different aspects of getting a product developed. It has also been a great leadership exercise since we have other students helping us.”
Denow, from Albert Lea, Minn., said, ”We're looking forward to representing NDSU on an international scale, as teams from different parts of globe will be competing. We're all looking forward to competing and having a competitive vehicle.”
Hertsgaard, from Kindred, N.D., is the president of the NDSU Society of Automotive Engineers.
“This kind of project is a great introduction to industry where the students will be given projects and be expected to plan and execute them on time and budget,” explained Andrew Blackmore, chapter adviser and research specialist. “It also gives them ‘real world’ experience of using the material they learn in lectures: manufacturing processes, finite element analysis, material science, problem solving, route cause analysis for issue resolution and team work.”
According to the Baja 2010 Web site, the concept of the competition is to prepare students for the real life job market where they must work together to design vehicles for production. The challenge for the teams is to design a rugged, reliable off-road vehicle, while keeping cost and maintenance affordable. Team members are responsible for design, construction, testing and promotion of the vehicle they create.
The Baja competition focuses on the design of the vehicle’s chassis and suspension design of the car, and the motor is restricted to an unmodified 10-horsepower Briggs and Stratton. Students are challenged to design a rugged and reliable off-road capable car, while still keeping cost and maintenance affordable for the theoretical consumer.