Baja team ready for home competition

  PSU
  Monday, May 22, 2017 2:00 AM
  News, People and Society, Science and Technology

Pittsburg, KS

Baja team ready for home competition

After one day at the course, she knew she was meant to be more than a helper.

“I watched the PSU team compete, and I just knew that I had to be on a team like this,” Blackman said. “I had to have that experience of being in the competition, especially here on our home turf.”

In just a few days, Blackman will get that chance when Pittsburg State hosts the 2017 SAE Baja competition. The international competition that features more than 1,500 students and 110 teams from around the world takes place May 25-28. The PSU Baja course is located just east of the Bicknell Sports Complex. 

Blackman, who earned her undergrad degree from PSU earlier this month, said the Pitt State Baja team is anxious for the challenge of competing on its home campus.

“We know that when we go out there, we’re representing not only our university, but also the entire community,” she said. “This is our home turf, and we’re ready to show that Pitt State can hang with the best teams in the world.” 

The 2017 competition will feature teams from universities across the country, including California State Polytechnic, Gonzaga and Notre Dame. There will also be several international teams from schools in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India and South Africa.

Erik Raux, junior auto tech major and captain of the PSU team, said the best part about Baja is the intense competition.

“When you attend a school like Pitt State, you don’t expect to compete against schools like Cal Poly or MIT,” he said. “That’s what is so cool about Baja. You travel the country competing against big schools like this. We know that we’re right up there with all of them, and we look forward to showing that this week at our place.”

Baja events consist of competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked with designing and building an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. The competition involves designing, planning and manufacturing.

“It’s an incredible learning experience,” Raux said, “because we’re applying everything we learn in the classroom. This experience shows us the real-life application to the concepts and methods we learn in class.”

Assistant Professor Trent Lindbloom, faculty adviser for the PSU team, said that while it’s hard work, hosting a Baja event is a true honor.

“Being asked to host Baja is awesome because it’s a testament to the facility and the people we have here at Pitt State and in the community,” he said. “We’re excited to bring Baja back to Pittsburg State University.”

This year marks the third time PSU has hosted Baja competition. The event was in Pittsburg in 2011 and 2014. While the university is committed to remaining on a three-year rotation and hosting again in 2020, it was announced earlier this year that the university will also host Baja again next year.

“Due to some conflicts with schedules, the SAE Baja organization was looking for a host site for the 2018 event,” PSU President Steve Scott said, “and they knew just where to look.  We, of course, were more than happy to accept their invitation to host.”

SCHEDULE

The Bajas on Broadway Car Show in downtown Pittsburg, at which several of the teams will show off their competition vehicles, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 25. 

The official opening competitors meeting begins at 8 a.m. Friday, May 26 at the course site. Throughout Friday, teams will participate in a variety of inspections, tests and practice runs.

Various competitive events will take place on Saturday and Sunday, including the four-hour endurance event. This event is held over a one and one half mile course that is intended to test the capabilities of each of the off-road vehicles. 

Saturday’s and Sunday’s event will be livestreamed on pittstate.tv.

More information, including a full schedule of events, is available at pittstate.edu/baja.