University News

College of Engineering Students Rank #6 in 2021 Baja SAE Business Presentation Competition

Published: April 12, 2021 | Categories: Engineering, All News
WNE Baja car in motion

Western New England University's (WNE) Golden Bear Racing Team gained a substantial lead for the 2020-21 Baja SAE competition on March 22. The WNE University team consisting of senior Electrical Engineering major, Jeremy Bowler, senior Mechanical Engineering major, Joseph Wetzel, sophomore Mechanical Engineering major, Conner Bogle, and junior Mechanical Engineering major, Dominic Gallant ranked sixth in the nation in the first part of a three-part competition, the Business Presentation Knowledge Event portion.

"My Congratulations to the Baja team for their impressive performance in the first part of the Baja competition," said Dean of the College of Engineering S. Hossein Cheraghi. "Realizing that there are over 200 teams participating in the competition speaks to the significance of our students' achievement in being ranked #6 in the world."

The Baja SAE is a collegiate design series competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International). Teams of students from universities all over the world design and build small off-road cars. All the cars have engines of the same specifications. The competition is both static and dynamic. The static event consists of a Business Presentation and a Design Presentation. The dynamic events consist of all racing events: Hill Climb, Acceleration, Sled Pull, Suspension, Maneuverability, and the Endurance Race. The event challenges engineering students to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain.

The competition gives students the first-hand challenge of pursuing their passion while managing real-life demands and priorities. Each team's goal is to design and build a prototype of an all-weather, rugged, single-seat, off-road recreational vehicle intended for sale to the nonprofessional weekend off-road enthusiast. As in real work situations, these future engineers work together as a team to discover and resolve technical challenges in design, test, and manufacturing, as well as business issues.

"This year, Baja SAE utilized a business presentation scenario that focused on the creation of a business plan for a semi-professional race series," explained club advisor Dr. Vedang Chauhan. "Due to COVID, the presentations were conducted virtually and utilized software specified by SAE International. Students were given 10 minutes to pitch to a board of CORE International (California Off Road Enthusiasts) officials to ultimately choose a manufacturer and race logistics partner for the future BORA (Baja Off-road Racing Adventures) race series."

Judges consisted of executives and representatives from SAE, Cummins, Jaguar, Land Rover, Chrysler, Ford, GM, and private consultants. Scoring was based on four elements of the presentation: content, organization, delivery and visual aids, and questions. Results were announced on March 22.

"The performance in the business presentation portion of the competition was quite the feat as WNE was pitted against other top-flight universities the world over," said WNE University Interim Provost Curt Hamakawa. "This is exactly the type of endeavor that we encourage and support. In addition to providing our students with important hands-on experiences, they bring credit to our programs, departments, colleges, and University!"

The WNE Baja team accomplishments include finishing 12th place overall against 100 teams worldwide in the 2018 SAE Maryland competition and being the first team in the United States (and second in the world) to implement at competition a very new transmission technology called an Electronically Controlled Variable Transmission. The WNE Baja team had performed very well in 2019 competition dynamics events which is the strength of the team. The WNE Baja team tests the performance of the car on a race track on campus and also helps teams from other universities with technical advising and brainstorming sessions.

"The team is preparing for the second part of the competition, the Dynamic event, which takes place on May 20-23, 2021 and will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. We are optimistic and confident that we can perform well in that area," said Joe Wetzel. "A top 10 finish in the overall competition has always been our goal."