RIT hosts 100 off-road race teams at Baja SAE World Challenge in Rochester this summer

Engineering and technology volunteers needed for campus and course events

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Christina Buettner

Off-road racing is back at RIT this June as the university will host and compete against 100 collegiate teams from around the world at the 2016 SAE Baja World Challenge.

Off-road racing is back at Rochester Institute of Technology this June as the university will host and compete against 100 collegiate race car teams from around the world at the 2016 SAE Baja World Challenge June 9-12. This is the sixth time RIT has hosted one of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ student design and racing competitions. The Rochester event takes place at the university and at Hogback Hill Motocross Track in Palmyra, N.Y.

SAE Baja consists of competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects in which engineering students design and build off-road vehicles that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain—hill and rock climbs—acceleration and maneuverability challenges and a four-hour endurance race. The object of the competition is to provide SAE student members with a challenging project that involves the design, planning and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market.

RIT’s event planners are seeking engineering industry professionals to be volunteer judges for sales presentations taking place at the start of the competition on Thursday, June 9, and for other events throughout the four-day competition. Those interested in volunteering can register online and will be contacted by event coordinators.

The objective of the sales presentation is for each student team to convince executives of a hypothetical manufacturing company to purchase the team’s Baja SAE vehicle design and put it into production. Volunteers should have experience in marketing, production, finance and engineering. They should be available for an orientation prior to the event, and commit to the full day for judging.

Technical inspections, design judging and dynamic brake inspections take place on Friday, June 10, at the Gordon Field House at RIT. Events resume on Saturday, June 11, at Hogback Hill Motorcross Track in Palmyra, N.Y., and include the hill climb, acceleration, suspension and traction competitions, as well as land maneuverability challenges. The event concludes on Sunday, June 12, with the four-hour endurance race.

“The Rochester race is known to be one of the premier college design series events. It happens every three years here and it is a blast,” said Martin Gordon, event organizer. Gordon is also the faculty adviser for RIT Baja and a professor of mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology.

When SAE announced the 2015-2016 schedule of U.S. events, the Rochester competition was filled in 17 minutes. More than 40 teams are on a wait list to attend. Teams already registered include Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State universities, Auburn, Clemson, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, the University of Rochester, Clarkson University and a large contingent from Canada, Venezuela, India, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico.

RIT’s Baja race team opens its season in Tennessee for a competition at Tennessee Tech April 14-17. They compete in California May 19-22 before returning to RIT for the Rochester event. Last year, RIT Baja Racing won the Sportsmanship Award at its final event in Oregon and had top-10 placements in each of its three U.S. competitions.