Engineering students from The University of Texas-Pan American recently participated in the 2002 Midwest Mini Baja competition in Milwaukee, finishing 22nd overall.
Sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the competition attracted nearly 130 schools from the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Korea and Canada.
"Once our students have the experience of a national competition where they do well, it builds confidence, it builds their support of our University in the future, and it builds excitement among our engineering student body," said Dr. Edwin LeMaster, associate dean of the UTPA School of Engineering and Computer Science. "The faculty is always delighted when our students meet our expectations."
The object of the Mini Baja is to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Each team competes to have its design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm that wants to mass-produce them.
The students work as a team to design, build, test, promote and race a vehicle within the limits of the rules.
"Students learn how to work in teams on a common project. They also learn project planning and management, and they learn about financial constraints on engineering problems," LeMaster said.
Each team's goal is to design and build a prototype of a four-wheel, single seat, off-road recreational vehicle intended for sale to the non-professional, weekend off-road enthusiast. The vehicle must be safe, easily transported, easily maintained and fun to drive.
The team is also in charge of raising money to cover materials, registration fees, travel and lodging.