Competition season revs up for Off-Road Illini
Last weekend, the university’s Baja SAE team, the Off-Road Illini, attended their first competition of the season in Maryland.
The team designs, builds, and tests an off-road vehicle each year, and competes in three SAE competitions annually. This year the competitions are in Maryland, Kansas, and Oregon.
Baja SAE competitions have four main parts: rules compliance, static event, dynamic events, and endurance. In order to drive, the car needs to pass engine check, technical inspection, and brake check. The static events are focused on the engineering and business aspects, and include a sales presentation, where the team focuses on ensuring the car appeals to a target audience, and a design presentation, in which the team is judged on their design choices and how they validated them.
The dynamic events include four exercises designed to test different features of the car, such as acceleration, maneuverability, and suspension, among others. The competition concludes after the endurance race, in which the car has to race on an obstacle course for four hours.
At Maryland, the car performed quite well. The car passed engine check, technical inspection, and brake check the first time, which is often a problem at the first competition of the season. For the dynamic events the car’s results were: 13th in maneuverability, 16th in acceleration, 33rd in hill climb, and 45th in suspension. In endurance, the team was 39th of the 94 cars in the event.
“Overall, I'm happy with the way the car performed,” said Jenna Leane, the current team captain. “We saw improvement over the 2016 and 2017 results and know what we have to change to perform as a top team in Kansas and Oregon.”
Josh Rosenthal, the team’s testing lead, said he thought the Maryland competition went well.
“We encountered a few problems we hadn’t anticipated, but have already found potential solutions. We’re manufacturing those now to be validated through rigorous testing by our next competition. We look forward to hitting the course in Kansas on May 17,” he said.