Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
Dain Sires of Iowa State's Mini Baja Team poses with the car during one of its first tests. Photo contributed by Iowa State's Mini Baja Team.
Shane Pearson, Iowa State Mini Baja Team, (515) 451-9002, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, email@example.com
Iowa State students engineer Baja racer to handle off-road tests, four-hour race
AMES, Iowa -- Adam Upah took a few minutes from the rush of final car preparations to show off the shiny transmission he built for Iowa State University's Mini Baja SAE race car.
Upah, who just graduated with an Iowa State degree in mechanical engineering and is about to begin work as a durability test engineer for Honda, also built the transmission as a senior design project for his ME 415 course in Mechanical Systems Design.
Here's an inside look at the transmission Adam Upah designed and built for Iowa State's mini Baja race car. Photo contributed by Iowa State's Mini Baja Team.
Here, he said, pointing to the top right of the metal box, is where the power from the 10 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine goes in. And down here is where the axels are attached. In between are eight gears that transfer the engine's power to those axels.
That drivetrain can make a big difference in how Iowa State's mini Baja car performs in a May 28-31 competition sponsored by SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers. All the Baja SAE cars are required to run the same engine, said Shane Pearson, a senior from Spencer who's studying mechanical engineering and is the project director for Iowa State's Mini Baja Team.
And so, he said, "The biggest advantages are in the suspension and drivetrain. The most efficient drivetrains and the best suspensions will do well."
The Iowa State team will find out how well its $13,500 car can do when it races against 115 schools registered for the SAE competition at Caterpillar's Edwards Demonstration Facility near Peoria, Ill.
The competition includes off-track design, cost and presentation events. On-track events include an acceleration contest, a hill climb, a maneuverability test, a rock crawl and a four-hour endurance race.
Pearson said he thinks this year's car can do much better than last year's 87th place finish. The team has designed a new suspension system that should absorb bigger bumps. And Upah's transmission replaces a chain-drive transmission that failed several times last year.
"We think we can be pretty good," Pearson said. "With our skill level and experience, we hope to be in the top 20 this year. Our car is designed for that."
So the garage has been busy the last few weeks as team members worked on final touches and testing. Chris Sullivan, a junior from Sioux City who's studying mechanical engineering, recently worked on an electronic dashboard for the car. Nearby, Nathan Gibilisco, a senior from Northboro who's studying mechanical engineering, was helping to install the new transmission.
And that new transmission that Upah built? How did it do as a class project?
Yes, Upah said, it was worth an A.
Iowa State's Mini Baja Team is preparing its student-designed and student-built off-road racer for a May 28-31 competition sponsored by SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers.
"We think we can be pretty good. With our skill level and experience, we hope to be in the top 20 this year. Our car is designed for that."
Shane Pearson, a senior from Spencer who's studying mechanical engineering and is the project director for Iowa State's Mini Baja Team
The ISU Mini Baja Team
These students -- all of them majoring in mechanical engineering -- worked to design and build Iowa State's Baja race car: