The Ragin’ Cajun Baja Team of the mechanical engineering department of the University of Louisiana recently competed in the SAE Baja South Carolina 2010 competition hosted by Clemson University at their International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, South Carolina.

University of Louisiana SAE Baja TeamThe purpose of the SAE Baja competitions is to gather engineering students from colleges and universities around the world and test their student built all-terrain vehicles to see which vehicle out-performs the competition under challenging test conditions. It is an exciting and practical way to see college students at their best—applying the knowledge they've learned inside the classroom.

The SAE Baja South Carolina competition held April 8-11, 2010, attracted entries from across the United States and from as far away as Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. The entries are judged on their merits in both design and performance by a national judging board. In the initial design competition, judges examine each entry and question each team regarding their strategy, their design choices, why a certain methods were selected, costing, etc. Once the car is presented for the technical inspection on the first day, it cannot be modified during the competition—replacement parts must be identical so that nothing changes the performance of the vehicle. The endurance test lasts for four hours and includes elements such as a mud pit, a rock-crawl, hill climbs, and straightaways. Not all competitors successfully complete this event and the vehicle’s ability to negotiate the course and overcome obstacles demonstrates the validity of the team’s design choices. UL mechanical engineering’s Ragin’ Cajun Baja team came home with a very respectable placement of 19 out a field of 103 entries, with 93 teams counted in the ranking.

University of Louisiana SAE Baja TeamThe Mechanical Engineering Department’s Administrative Assistant, Linda LaFleur, who accompanied the team to South Carolina, said that the competition brings challenges and rewards off the course as well. She has travelled with the team to competitions over the past several years and indicated that each trip is a new experience. You get to see the amazing entries that the students build—with each year bringing new concepts and design modification. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the competitors and part of the fun is meeting people from all over the world. She said that the team is like a little “family” unit and she enjoys having the opportunity to get to know her students outside of the university setting.

Just back from South Carolina, and with final exams looming in the very near future, the team remains focused. They already have their sights set on their next competition: Baja SAE Rochester Wet World Challenge, June 10-13, 2010, where Rochester Institute of Technology (New York) will welcome the top engineering and engineering technology students in the world and test their skills in the biggest collegiate Baja competition of the year! Geaux Cajuns!


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