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Engineering Students Win Big at Baja Competition

Nov 11, 2010

Two teams of Ohio Northern University engineering students garnered top 20 finishes in the regional Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) “Backwoods Baja,” race in Arkansaw, Wis., on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the event consisted of two two-hour endurance races on a short motocross-style track. The freshman team, driving car No. 80, were plagued by drive-train problems throughout the race and finished 12th out of 25. ONU’s other entry, No. 41, finished second in a group of 25 after staying on course through all 184 laps.

Sponsored by the SAE, the Baja competition simulates real-world engineering projects and related challenges. In it, teams must design and build an off-road vehicle that can survive rough terrain. The competition involves the planning and manufacturing tasks associated with producing a new project for the consumer industry market. Students must act as a team not only to design, build and race the vehicle but also to generate financial support for the project.

Team 80 was comprised of Peter Minidis, a freshman mechanical engineering major from North Royalton, Ohio, Ryan O’Connor, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Mason, Ohio, Paul Towery, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Columbus, Ohio, Sam Weldon, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Litchfield, Ohio, and Caleb Helms, a freshman civil engineering major from Findlay, Ohio.

Team 41 was comprised of Matt Tomasko-Driver, a senior constructive management major from Valley View, Ohio, Sean Rutt-Drive, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Apple Creek, Ohio, Brandon Anspach, a junior mechanical engineering major from Rawson, Ohio, James Grigsby, a senior mechanical engineering major from Spencerville, Ohio, and Colin Bayman, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Urbana, Ohio.

The next regional event will be a snow race hosted by Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., in mid-February. The season finale will be a 100-car international event held May 2011 in Pittsburg, Kan.