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LETU Engineering Students Win Third Place in SAE Baja Competition


LeTourneau University mechanical engineering students won 3rd place overall in design at the international 2009 Baja SAE Wisconsin competition recently with their Baja car they named "The Blacksmith." The students competed with more than 120 schools from all over the world. The team also competed in two other SAE mini-Baja competitions in Oregon and Alabama, which qualified them to compete in the "Ironman" competition, ranking 8th nationally.

In Oregon, they competed against 100 colleges and universities primarily from the northern United States, placing 4th in sales presentation and 10th in overall dynamics, which included acceleration, hill-climbing, land maneuverability and rock crawl with their student-designed car. In Alabama, they competed against 100 colleges and universities primarily from the southern United States and ranked 13th in maneuverability and 15th in acceleration with a total overall of 28th place.

"Typically, in the past, we have only gone to two competitions, but this year, we qualified to compete in the Ironman competition, an award reserved for schools that compete in all three regional events" said Jacob Shafer, team captain. Shafer is a senior mechanical engineering major from Big Piney, Wyoming. "The third place award for design that we won in Wisconsin along with the Ironman designation were the highlights of the summer for the Baja team. Everybody pulled together and worked hard on the design and execution at each of the competitions. Now, we start all over again when classes begin later this month. Our goal this year, like every year, is to always shoot to be in the top 10."

The LETU Baja team has 11 members and a lot of volunteers. "We couldn't do it without the help of our volunteers and local sponsors who support us with financial funding, equipment and spiritual encouragement," Shafer said.

"Teamwork pays off," said Richard Baney, faculty adviser for the SAE Baja team. "Teamwork is required in every step, from designing and building the car to competing with the vehicle. This team came together to perform well."

Baja SAE consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain and sometimes even water. Baja SAE is part of SAE International Collegiate Design Series (CDS). Other CDS competitions include Aero Design, Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Formula SAE and Supermileage.

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