Off-road lessons: Engineering students place well in international racing competition

Jun 30th, 2014

By Jackey Locke

Off-road lessons: Engineering students place well in international racing competition

Team Memorial Baja finished 52ndout of 90 universities at the Baja SAE competition in Peoria, Ill., June 4-7.

While it was the fifth consecutive year that Team Memorial competed at this international racing event, it was the first competition for this year’s vehicle.

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. The event also included competitions in acceleration, hill climbing, maneuverability, suspension and traction and endurance.

“We redesigned the entire car and were literally putting it together on the way to the competition,” said Alex Clark, 2014 team member and 2015 co-captain. “We redesigned the front and back suspensions, chassis, gear box, brakes, frame. With the new design, we were able to decrease the weight of the car by 20 pounds which means it’s capable of going faster.”

Despite delays in the redesign process, the team is pleased with how the car performed. The team’s best event was acceleration with a 29th place finish.

“It was a big learning experience for us to set the goals of when we needed to design it and when we needed to start fabricating,” said Jumana Joury, 2014 team member and 2015 co-captain. “We also case hardened our own gears – a process we learned about in class. It was a great experience to be able to apply it.”

Dr. Geoff Rideout, a mechanical engineering professor and teacher sponsor for the team, says the team members came together leading up to the event to produce what he believes is the strongest Memorial Baja to date.

“The highlight this year was watching the car go around the manoeuvrability track,” he said. “It had been moving under its own power for approximately15 minutes at that point, and we watched a lot of cars experience technical difficulties on the track. Our car completed the entire course twice without incident.

“The car really is fundamentally well-designed,” he continued. “This is the strongest car yet. All the adjustments they made from last year and all the forethought that went into it made for a sound car that with a little more testing and development should finish in the top 20 next year.”

The outgoing captain, Calvin Holloway, is equally pleased with this year’s performance both in terms of the new car and how the team pulled together.

“After a productive year, the team succeeded in producing a car that improved on previous year’s design and performance,” he said. “It was a great learning experience for everyone involved and the minor setbacks that hurt the car’s placement will be easily rectified. This will position the team for a great year of testing and optimizing that gives Memorial Baja a strong competitive stance for the 2015 competitions.”

The team wishes to acknowledge and thank the following sponsors: Atlantic Trailer and Equipment, Cimetrix Solutions, Cliffs, Dovre Group, Hickman Automotive Group, Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Technical Services Division, Mile 1 Harley-Davidson, Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Union (MUNSU), Newfoundland Distributors, NAPA Auto Parts, The Angus Bruneau Student Leadership and Innovation Fund in Engineering (LIFE) Program, PAL Airlines, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL), Quality Transport Component, Rideout Tools and Machine Inc., Russell Metals and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).

For more about Team Memorial Baja, go to



Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000