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Team finishes fifth at international Baja SAE competition

Ohio Northern University’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja team finished fifth overall at the Baja SAE Birmingham competition held April 14-17. Fifty-eight teams from several countries, including the United States, Canada, South Korea and Mexico, traveled to Birmingham, Ala., for the event.

The Baja SAE competition challenges engineering students to research and design an off-road vehicle that will be subjected to a battery of rigorous performance tests. The vehicles are judged based on acceptance for manufacture by a fictitious firm. Each vehicle is entirely student-designed and built, and students must raise financial support for the project. There are three regional competitions in which students may compete.

ONU finished in the top 20 in each of the competition’s eight categories: endurance (fifth place), water (seventh), suspension and traction (15th), pull (15th), maneuverability (fourth), acceleration (13th), design (14th), and cost (15th).

The ONU team also received the “Rookie of the Year” award for its outstanding performance in its first-ever water event race. The water event required the team to turn its car into a boat for a significant stretch of the race.

The members of Ohio Northern’s team are Matt Tomasko, a senior construction management major from Valley View, Ohio, and mechanical engineering students Austin Moyer, a senior from New Washington, Ohio, and team president; Brandon Anspach, a junior from Rawson, Ohio; Sean Rutt, a sophomore from Apple Creek, Ohio; James Grigsby, a senior from Spencerville, Ohio; David Cramer, a sophomore from New Washington, Ohio; Ashley Batesole, a freshman from Medina, Ohio; Brandon Gloss, a senior from Pickerington, Ohio; and Colin Bayman, a sophomore from Urbana, Ohio. David Mikesell, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and Bill Kanzig, ONU machinist, serve as the team’s advisors.

“Finishing in the top five has been one of my main goals since my freshman year,” said Moyer. “It’s satisfying to finally achieve it!”

“This race was excellent proof of how well our car was designed and built,” added Cramer.

The ONU team plans to compete in two additional events, a May event in Kansas and a June event in Illinois.