RIT Mini-Baja Team Competes in South American Contest

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter Rochester Institute of Technologys mini-Baja team earned seventh place among 80 teams in the Mini Baja Brazil last weekend in So Paulo, RITs first 2004 competition. RIT was the only U.S. team and the only one from outside Brazilin the contest.

RITs nimble yet rugged student-built, off-road vehicle was put through the paces in categories including a four-hour endurance race and tests for acceleration, braking, hill climbing, maneuverability, top speed, traction and more. RIT placed first in structural integrity.

RITs 20-member team next competes in the Mini Baja West this weekend in Portland, Ore., followed by the Mini Baja East, May 6-8, in Montreal, and the Midwest Mini Baja, June 3-6, in Milwaukee. Each competition features unique challenges, such as the rock crawl in the West contest, water maneuverability in the East event and tractor pull in the Midwest competition.

Our approach is to build the best car we can, says Lee Gagne, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major and team manager. New features on this years cars include improved suspension and brakes.

For Gagne and his teammates, the chance to be on the mini-Baja team is a primary reason for attending RIT. After all, only a handful of colleges have mini-Baja teams and even fewer go to all three national competitions and international events in Brazil and South Africa. More goes into competing than building and driving cars, Gagne adds. Other students focus on key aspects such as finance and technical writing, and everyone learns to work as a team.

Its not all about winningbut thats what we like, Gagne says. I love it.

Mini-Baja competitions are sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers and Briggs & Stratton Corp.