Posted March 19, 2012
Four Idaho State University seniors are in the process of creating an off-road vehicle to compete in the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) Collegiate Design Series Baja competition.
Mechanical engineering majors Shane Humphries, Anson Hall and George Howell and electrical engineering major Prabesh Shrestha will pit their vehicle against others May 2-5 in Portland, Ore.
The students must test their engineering skills by designing and building a vehicle that can withstand several off-road events, including a rock crawl and hill climb. Their vehicle will be judged on construction, safety and appearance as well. They must also submit design reports and cost reports.The competition doubles as a senior design project for the team members, a requirement which Humphries calls the "capstone of the program." They said they hope their experience in the Baja competition will be a launching point for future senior design projects.
"We want it to continue throughout the years," Howell said.
All funding and parts for the project are the responsibility of the students, with the exception of an engine, which has been donated to all competition teams by Briggs & Stratton. Though funding and resources have been a challenge to come by, the group has had assistance from local businesses and private donors.
Businesses such as Pocatello Auto Zone, Pacific Steel, Fastenal and John Deere have provided monetary and parts contributions. Individual donors have also contributed money and parts, as well as shop space to build the vehicle in.
Despite the obstacles, the team members said the experience as a whole has been worthwhile as they've gained industry exposure, hands-on experience and a definite resume-builder for future jobs.
"It's been rewarding to see the academic aspects," said Humphries, "like the physics, the math behind the metal."