SAE Baja vehicle shreds the track in the Blizzard Baja

The team posing by the vehicle.

Shredding the track.

Western Michigan University’s Baja SAE team successfully shredded the track on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Michigan Tech's Blizzard Baja, where the team’s all-terrain vehicle performed well in a 4-hour durability race.

College teams from across the country design and build single-seat off-road vehicles and compete in national Baja SAE events. “The Blizzard Baja is a way for us to test our vehicle before our big national competition in June,” said Alyssa Hartsig, a mechanical engineering student and member of WMU’s Baja team. “It was so much fun to race the car in the snow and slush and see how it performed.”

Nearly 20 universities and 50 vehicles competed at the event, which is organized and hosted by Michigan Tech annually.

Baja SAE is a student organization designed to promote teamwork, innovative ideas, and hands-on experience outside of the classroom. This year, the WMU team will compete against 100 other universities at the national competition in June at the Caterpillar Edwards proving grounds in Peoria, Ill. Events include an endurance race, acceleration test, hill climb and chain pull. 

“Being involved in these competitions exposes students to real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges,” said Dr. Andy Kline, associate dean for research and graduate education, who serves as advisor to the team. “Team members have to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain.”

He said in addition to building the vehicle, students also have to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities. “It’s a tremendous amount of work but the skills and experience they gain are irreplaceable,” he said.