The Baja Racing team held its first orientation session of the year Aug. 31 in AME. A welcome-back barbecue followed so that newcomers could meet the returning team.
Diversity is a Driving Force
The Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) engineering design team at the UA consists of undergraduate students from varying disciplines and backgrounds with the common goal of developing their education. Team members range from freshmen to fifth-year seniors, from engineers to businessmen and women. Baja gives students the opportunity for professional development while experiencing a hands-on approach to the theories learned in classrooms.
The diversity of the membership is its strength, says Baja team leader Andrew Smock, a mechanical engineering senior. “Every member brings unique qualities to the team along with unparalleled ambition for success -- both in school and on the dirt,” Smock said. “On their own they are motivated students from different educational backgrounds with the desire to accelerate their professional and mechanical knowledge. Together they are an unstoppable force more commonly known as UA Baja Racing.”
Not All About the Racing
UA Baja develops a new, cutting-edge prototype vehicle every year and competes in the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series every summer. Baja SAE is one of the largest and fastest growing collegiate design competitions in the world. Teams must design, build, market and race a single-seat off-road vehicle while generating financial support for their vehicles and maintaining educational priorities.
UA Baja Racing has expanded its focus recently to community and educational outreach. Many initiatives nationwide are directed at encouraging students to pursue science and engineering careers, and the Baja team has embraced this idea. The team regularly conducts school visits and tours of its shop in AME to inspire enthusiasm for technical education.
UA Team Has a Reputation for Innovation
In its future vehicles, the UA Baja team is determined to continue pushing the limits of design by incorporating what Smock describes as “stunning and unique features.” Smock said that entrants in the 2008 competition were “struck at the sight of the vehicle, frequently stopping and looking intently and curiously at the design because it was so unique.” The vehicle was the only one of a 120-car field to feature dual chain-driven rear swing-arms, front parallel trailing-arms, and a utility truck bed. The vehicle was one of 31 out of the entire field to finish the endurance race and one of even fewer vehicles to complete all dynamic events. Placing 33rd overall, the UA Baja team accomplished an unprecedented feat by jumping roughly 50 placements in one year. “Couple that with unparalleled recruitment and retention rates along with community activism,” said Smock, “and the result is the beginnings of a program that will continue to raise the bar year after year.”
UA Baja functions directly as a prototyping firm, with initiatives in research, development, marketing, public relations, finance, media creation and prototype validation. No matter your educational discipline there will be a position for you on the UA Baja team.
Regular team meetings take place Sundays at 3:30 p.m. in the 7th floor AME conference room. Incoming recruits attend an orientation session before their first team meeting to introduce them to team culture, vision and initiatives. Orientation allows new members to find their niches and determine the areas in which they want to develop skill sets. After orientation, says Smock, new recruits “can expect to be immersed in a rich, educational, hands-on experience that they will remember for a lifetime."