Vehicles flip over and bash into walls, crews scramble to make repairs and get it back on the course, fans roar their approval. No, this isn’t a scene from the Indianapolis 500. It’s a snapshot of what will take place during the 2007 Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge, hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology June 7-10.
The top engineering and engineering-technology students in the world are coming to RIT June 7-10 to test their skills in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ largest student design competition of the year. More than 140 colleges and universities from around the world are building all-terrain vehicles capable of holding up under the most adverse conditions.
“It’s the ultimate event,” says Marty Gordon, RIT professor of mechanical engineering technology and the organizer of the event. “It has everything—action, drama, teamwork, problem solving and kids from all over the world interacting.”
During the first two days of the competition, at RIT’s Gordon Field House and Activities Center, vehicles will be judged and inspected. Then the teams—traveling from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Korea, Taiwan, countries all over South America and from across the United States—will be put to the test during the dynamic events at Hogback Hill Motocross Track in Palmyra, N.Y.
Vehicles will be tested in a series of events, including: acceleration, traction, maneuverability and, ultimately, the endurance competition—which assesses each vehicle’s ability to operate continuously over a four-hour stretch through rugged terrain. The team that completes the most laps in the four-hour period wins.
“The excitement level at the event is extremely high,” says RIT Baja team member Justin Stabb. “You’re going to see cars flipping, cars running into trees…complete carnage.”
The event is expected to bring more than 1,400 participants, in addition to volunteers, judges and SAE officials, into the region. Some will be flying into Greater Rochester International Airport, most will be staying in area hotels and many will be purchasing last-minute supplies at area hardware and automotive stores.
Gordon looks forward to the event as an opportunity to see his students put the knowledge they’ve accumulated over the year into action.
“Baja SAE really ties into the RIT philosophy of experiential learning,” he says. “It gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve been gaining out of a textbook or out of a lab or out of a lecture hall, and apply it to something very real.”