Auburn University hosts international off-road racecar competition

By Sally Credille, College of Engineering



One thousand college students from schools around the globe went head-to-head April 20-22 for the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering's 2012 Baja SAE Auburn competition, held at Auburn's National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) test site in Opelika. This premier engineering student design competition, sanctioned since 1976 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), featured 100 collegiate teams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, Israel, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates and South Korea.

"This year's competition had some really exciting twists and turns," said Peter Jones, Auburn mechanical engineering faculty member and the event's organizer. "We've enhanced the course from our 2006 and 2009 Baja competitions, adding higher jumps, longer rock crawls and a steep hill climb. Combined with the static and dynamic events, this competition was a real test of what these teams and their cars are made of."

Cornell University's team placed first overall, earning 955.86 points, while Oregon State and Rochester Institute of Technology placed second and third with 936.16 points and 875.97 points, respectively. The Auburn car finished in the number 22 position with 625.39 points as the young team struggled with fuel line problems during Sunday's endurance race.

Baja SAE is an annual engineering student competition to design, build and race a prototype of an off-road, all-terrain race car. Each year, three North American events are held, which last year hosted teams from more than 273 colleges. Auburn's event was the first of the 2012 racing season.

The three-day competition took place on a specially-built course adjacent to the NCAT facility and included a four-hour wheel-to-wheel endurance race on a two-mile track, as well as short events in acceleration, hill climb, maneuverability, suspension, design report, design evaluation and manufacturing cost.

"In Baja, students learn about teamwork, project management, scheduling, budget and supplier relationships, as well as the details of machine design and fabrication technology," said Jones. "Then, they design it, build it, run it, evaluate it, fix it and do it again. When the deadline comes, it has to be ready to compete."

Baja SAE teaches students real-world skills that help young employees hit the ground running. Each year, SAE student programs produce hundreds of young engineers with design, fabrication and testing experience.

To learn more about the event, please visit the competition home page at

Last Updated: Apr. 25, 2012

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