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K-State Today Student Edition

May 2, 2012

Revved up and ready: Salina's Baja SAE Team brings home engine, high ranking

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

It was a winning start and a strong finish for Kansas State University Salina's Baja SAE Team at a recent international competition in Auburn, Ala.

As the first of 100 teams to pass technical inspection on the first try, the K-State Salina Baja team received a free Briggs and Stratton engine at the international Baja SAE Alabama competition, April 19-22. The team placed 25th overall in the event.

Baja SAE competitions simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain and sometimes even water.

The Alabama competition started with an engine check followed by a technical inspection. K-State Salina was one of only 12 teams to complete the inspection on the first try. Judges evaluated the car's performance in acceleration, braking, suspension and maneuverability. The competition ends with a four-hour endurance race designed to test the car's durability.

In the third hour of the endurance race, the K-State Salina team was in ninth place when the car experienced shock failure and damage to the rear frame. The team overcame the setback and had the vehicle back on track to finish the race with just 15 minutes left.

K-State Salina competed against 99 other teams from the United States, Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Preparing the car for competition is a yearlong endeavor. The team built the vehicle using computer aided design and analysis software to make it safe and off-road compatible.

To achieve the greatest possible top speed and acceleration, the team constructed a data acquisition device using an Arduino Controller. Magnetic sensors connected to the vehicle clutch provided data on ground speed, engine speed, vehicle position and real-time transmission ratio. The data helped the team tune the clutch and improve the vehicle's performance. By redesigning the front suspension control arms and spindles, the team improved turning radius and maneuverability. All construction and system design, including rapid-prototyping the device housings, was done at K-State Salina.

"The team learned a lot at competition this year," said Raju Dandu, professor of mechanical engineering technology and the team's faculty adviser. "They received a lot of feedback on their overall design. The competition is a great way for students to apply their knowledge as well as their leadership, teamwork and communication skills."

Team members include:

Byron Ronnebaum, sophomore in mechanical engineering technology, Axtell; Dustin Turner, senior in mechanical engineering technology, El Dorado; Cade Pacey, senior in mechanical engineering technology, Lincoln; Colin Tipton, senior in mechanical engineering technology, Mundon; Kacy Warner, freshman in professional pilot, Nickerson; Trevor Baker, junior in mechanical engineering technology, Washington; and Matt Wesely, senior in mechanical engineering technology, Wichita.

SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.