Cal Poly Pomona’s Baja SAE team captured the third place design award in the Baja SAE Illinois Competition from a field of 99 teams.
This marks the first time that the team has captured a top design award, and the second time this year that they made design finals. Overall, the team finished 32nd.
For 2017, the Bronco Racing team fully redesigned its car, reducing the weight by 14 percent, increasing speed 24 percent, and creating a fully custom electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT) and forward neutral reverse transaxle. The ECVT allows the engine to run at peak horsepower with deviations as much as 200 RPM from the set point.
The design portion of the Baja SAE competition includes judging on the car’s suspension, powertrain, chassis, brakes and ergonomic design as well as the team’s presentation. The ECVT system was a featured component.
Baja SAE competitions are divided into static events (i.e. design, sales and cost presentation), dynamic events (e.g. acceleration, maneuverability, hill climb and rock crawl) and endurance, which is worth 400 of the competition’s 1000 possible points.
“For endurance, we just didn’t have enough time to prep the way we would have liked from Kansas to Illinois,” said Kyle Craig, captain of the Baja team. “In Kansas, we lost our cooling fan, and we were unable to make a new set up work in the little time we had. We overheated everything in the Powertrain system in the first hour and fought those problems to the finish.”
The Bronco car was off the track four times with transmission (ECVT) problems and a broken suspension arm.
“We did not finish in the top ten,” said Clifford Stover, professor of engineering and the team’s advisor, “but we did not fail either. The team repaired the vehicle every time and got back out on the track. During the awards ceremony, we were mentioned as the most tenacious team at the event, never giving up even after four breakdowns.”
Craig, ’17, mechanical engineering major, is most proud of the journey “to becoming a design finalist not just once but twice, and being on the first team in Cal Poly Pomona Baja SAE team’s history to come home with a top three design award.
“This did not come easy. We had many heated debates on what we should do for a whole new vehicle design,” said Craig. “We…changed designs hundreds of times to integrate, innovate and produce to the best of our abilities. Most of all we proved that no matter what, when hard work and dedication is present, we can do anything we want.”
Stover, who is leaving Cal Poly Pomona later this month for a position at the Oregon Institute of Technology, has mentored the Baja SAE team for 22 years, attending 71 national and international competitions with Baja SAE and Formula SAE.
The best part of that experience, he says, “has been working with students and watching them succeed year after year, and seeing them in positions that make us all proud. Engineering students have always excelled in project-related environments where classroom theory is put into practice. Team projects and international multidisciplinary design competitions showcase our future, our engineers and our next generation of great young minds.”