SOE Students Build Buggy to Compete
A group of Fairfield’s School of Engineering students are working together, on weekends and on early mornings, to design and build a car to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) specifications for an international “Baja Buggy” design competition. A Baja Buggy is an off-road, single-seat vehicle used in certain competitive motorsports events.
“We try to get all our students to actually design things, build them and learn how to operate them enough, so that they understand what they are asking people to do,” Dean Bruce Berdanier, PhD, said about the way this high-impact, extracurricular program helps prepare students for the future.
The SAE is an international global body of scientists, engineers, and practitioners that advances self-propelled vehicle and system knowledge in a neutral forum for the benefit of society. Fairfield’s team has been working with the SAE towards the 2017 Baja design competition that will be held at Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Ill., next summer. The objective of the competition is to simulate real world engineering design projects and their related challenges.
The students completed the AutoCAD design project throughout all of last year, did all the procurement themselves and their adviser, Professor Bob Wojna, helps them make contacts to get it all together.
"They are quick learners and they’re real hard workers," Mr. Wojna said about Fairfield students on the Baja Buggy team. He explained his optimism for the project comes from the high-level thinking that the students bring to the table and he's happy, too, that Fairfield is getting it's name "out there" in the field.
Currently, the group is using a fabrication facility at Automotive Restorations in Stratford, Conn., to build and assemble the frame or roll cage for a SAE Baja vehicle.
At the SAE competition, 100 universities will gather, and students will be judged on all aspects of their design and construction – aesthetics, performance, specifications and more. And will have a chance to meet a diversity of industry professionals — some of the judges will be from companies like Honda and Polaris Industries who will likely be keeping sights on future talent — and other engineering students.
“We help them get through all the stages and it’s great experience.” Dr. Berdanier said. "It gives our students a post-graduation edge."