After months of hard work and dedication, more than two dozen Alfred State College students were finally able to see their vision for an innovative off-road vehicle realized and put to the test during the recent 2018 Baja SAE event in Pittsburg, KS.
This marks the fifth time Alfred State College (ASC) has competed in the annual event, which tasks students with designing and building an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. The vehicle is to be a prototype for a reliable, maintainable, ergonomic, and economic production vehicle that serves a recreational user market.
The object of the competition is to provide SAE student members with a challenging project that involves the design, planning, and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market.
ASC students worked on the design and fabrication of their vehicle for four semesters, using numerous engineering tools to validate the design, specify the manufacturing process, estimate cost, and analyze fail modes. Additionally, they employed welding, machining, computer numerical control (CNC), and other manufacturing techniques while building the car.
Students who had a hand in the creation of the vehicle included Alexander Bailey, Joseph Barthelme, Steven Binkowski, Colin Blatz, Noah Casscles, Bradley Copenhaver, Allison Degraff, Connor Flesch, Alan Goda Jr., Paige Haley, Collin Harrigan, Haley Interlicchia, Lourdes Lopez, Joseph Martin, Alexander Mears, Brandon Mott, Jared Osborn, Aidan Pankow, Andrew Pierce, Tracy Rector, Harison Sharpe, Benjamin Stepanian, Spencer Stokes, Robert Sturtz, Owen Wegman, Ryan Wheaton, and Jack Wolff.
According to Associate Professor Dr. Jon Owejan, the team’s adviser, the students created a safe, lightweight vehicle capable of withstanding rugged off-road conditions. During the competition, teams made design, cost analysis, and sales presentations to a panel of judges. Then, the vehicles were subjected to a rigorous technical inspection and dynamic brake test, both of which the Alfred State vehicle passed.
Following the static events were a number of dynamic tests that included maneuverability, suspension, acceleration, a sled pull, and an endurance race. As a result of technical difficulties, however, ASC competed only in the endurance race.
Overall, Owejan said, ASC’s students did a great job in the competition, especially considering they competed against the top engineering schools in the world, some with budgets that are 100 times higher than that of the Alfred State team’s. When faced with issues during the competition, Owejan said, students came up with innovative ways to solve problems and worked as a team.
“These young engineers are determined to make ASC a contender at this competition and every year we are getting closer to that goal,” he said. “As we get there, the holistic engineering project experience will always be the most valuable outcome.