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ONU Baja Team Ranks 17th at Regional Competition

Ohio Northern University’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja team placed 17th overall at the regional Baja SAE® competition held June 11-14. The team also took 9th in the endurance portion of the competition. 100 teams traveled from across the globe, including the United States, Canada, North Korea, El Salvador and Mexico to Burlington, Wis., for the event.

The Baja SAE® competition serves to challenge engineering students to research and design an off-road vehicle to be subjected to a battery of rigorous performance tests. There are three regional competitions in which students may compete. The vehicles are judged based on acceptance for manufacture by a fictitious firm. Not only is each vehicle entirely student designed and built, but students must also raise financial support for the project.

“Everyone learns a lot of theory, but we get to see it running. Our motto in the past has been ‘build it, test it, break it,’ but we did better than that this year,” said Steve Hunt, a 2009 mechanical engineering graduate from Lima, Ohio.

Other ONU students involved in the project included mechanical engineering majors Brandon Anspach, a sophomore from Rawson, Ohio; Kyle Barnaba, a junior from Newark, Ohio; Josh Cox, a 2009 graduate from Akron, Ohio; Michael Dunn, a 2009 graduate from Columbus, Ohio; John Garlitz, a junior from Holland, Ohio; Brandon Gloss, a junior from Pickerington, Ohio; James Grigsby, a senior from Spencerville, Ohio; Austin Moyer, a sophomore from New Washington, Ohio; Mike Neal, a junior from Shreve, Ohio; and Eric Perkins, a sophomore from Carey, Ohio. Other team members included Cory Bryan, sophomore manufacturing technology major from McComb, Ohio; Peter Kleystuber, freshman electrical engineering major from Fairborn, Ohio; and Matt Tomasko, junior construction management major from Valley View, Ohio.

Bill Kanzig, ONU machinist, has served as the team’s advisor for the past three years. His favorite part of advising the team is “definitely working hands on with the students,” while the biggest challenge this year was getting the vehicle done in time for testing. This obstacle was compounded by the limited number of people available to work on such a large project with multiple new parts being custom-made for this year’s vehicle.

For Hunt, a five-year member of the team, the challenge was balancing his capstone hours with the hours needed to work on the vehicle.

“I put in more hours on this than in my capstone,” Hunt said.

In the end, however, the hundreds of hours dedicated by students outside of class paid off, particularly for Hunt, whose favorite part of the project was actually getting to drive the vehicle.

“I think that our team was able to do so well at competition because whenever people had spare time they would stop in the project room to see if anyone needed help…it was worth all the nights last fall trying to design a front suspension that would perform, and last the competition,” said Anspach.

Both Kanzig and Hunt acknowledge the support the team received from various areas of the University, including the Technology Department, particularly Dr. David Rouch and Mike Zembower, and their resources in Taft Memorial, Dr. Kendall Baker for his assistance in procuring sponsorships for the team and Dean of Engineering Eric Baumgartner for his support of the project.

“We’re very grateful for the support from ONU. Some other teams might have a lot more money, but we are still able to compete and beat most of them,” Hunt noted. The team was able to put together a successful vehicle, thanks to the generosity of numerous companies, in terms of machining, materials and cash donations.

For younger students looking to get involved in the project, Hunt and Kanzig both recommend, “showing up and getting to work.”

The standings of the top 20 teams at the Wisconsin regional are as follows:

1.    Oregon State University
2.    Centro Universitario Da FEI
3.    University of South Florida
4.    Universite de Sherbrooke
5.    State University of New York – Stony Brook
6.    Michigan Technological University
7.    Ecole Polytechnique De Montreal
8.    Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
9.    Tennessee Tech University
10.    Ecole De Technologie Superieure
11.    University of Maryland – College Park
12.    State University of New York – Buffalo
13.    Universite Laval
14.    University of Louisville
15.    Rochester Institute of Technology
16.    Northeastern University
17.    Ohio Northern University
18.    Iowa State University
19.    University of Maryland – Baltimore County
20.    University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign

A full listing of all 100 teams can be found at

Photos courtesy of Steve Hunt.

Baja vehicle before raceBaja vehicle during road test

ONU Baja Vehicle before road test                                                                  One portion of the Baja road test



Baja team after race

ONU Baja team and vehicle after road test