College’s Baja SAE team prepares for racecar competition

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By Scott Zinck Contributing Writer The Union College SAE Baja team will be heading to Pittsburgh, Kansas on May 25 for an international off-road racecar competition. The event includes activities like a design showcase, sales pitch and multiple driving events designed to test the full limits of the cars handling, durability and speed. The team is made up of students from many different majors, but the majority are engineers who have put in countless hours designing and building the car from scratch using knowledge gained here at Union College. With the help of the machine shop staff the team has built a space frame chassis from steel alloy that saved about 150 pounds compared to last year’s car. Captain David Khazen ‘19, when asked about the competitiveness of the car, said that, “The car is a vast improvement from last year, the revised chassis combined with the new gearing means that the car is faster. This combined with the new transmission and retaining of last year’s incredible suspension geometry means that this car will be a serious competitor in Kansas.” Khazen has been a member of the team for his entire career at Union and says that some of his closest friends have come from Baja and being a part of the team. Mark Solomon ‘20, the teams 2017/2018 president, is extremely excited to be a core member of the team in his first year at Union, saying, “Being a member of the transmission [design] team has taught me more about engineering than my time in the classroom.” Per senior executives on the team the car is far from ready, but most of the work is tiny things that are a nuisance, but are required for competition, like brake lights and other small things for technical inspection. They have had one test day and it was deemed a success despite partially damaging the car on a tree. Senior and Lead Fabricator Ben Davis ‘17 said of the test day, “The car is capable of much more than I was expecting, we went out and played in the mud, drove up streams, and did some top speed runs, and the car exceeded expectations all around. Unfortunately, our car broke and ended our test day early after some suspension mounting points after hitting a tree, but that’s why we test. In fact, we even have another coming up on May 6 to see how our minor tweaks from the last day work.” Last year’s car ranked 92 out of 110 cars so the team is looking towards a more succesful competition later this month. Overall the team is very happy with the car they have come up with. It has exceeded expectations and motivated the team to make the final push toward competition.

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