By design: Baja team makes it to design finals at international competition
Memorial’s Baja SAE team moved up six spots over last year and achieved their highest ranking to date during competition in Rochester, N.Y., June 9-12.
This is the seventh year that Memorial has competed in the Baja SAE international competition, which consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that is pushed to its limits in competitions such as acceleration, hill climbing, maneuverability, suspension and traction and endurance racing.
Finishing 36th out of 98 teams, the team’s overall performance is impressive; however, their proudest achievement this year was being one of only seven teams to make it into the design finals.
“The team did a lot of preparation for the design event,” said Dr. Geoff Rideout, a mechanical engineering professor and the team’s advisor. “They set numerical targets for the range of percentile male and female drivers the car could accommodate and how the suspension changed the wheel angle as the car went over bumps. Through the use of ergonomic data and 3-D computer modeling, they designed adjustable seat and pedals, and found optimum sizes for the suspension components.”
“They also reduced the mass of the drive train by using carbon fibre instead of steel,” Dr. Rideout continued. “Carbon fibre is a fairly revolutionary material for drive shafts so they did some destructive testing in the faculty’s structures laboratory and verified that it could withstand the loads anticipated during racing. They also improved the car’s braking system by using different master cylinders, and reduced gearbox mass by removing excess materials from the gears. Application of design principles from their courses reassured them that the changes would be beneficial.”
The team also prepared poster boards with computer assisted drawings (CAD) to illustrate design elements that couldn’t easily be explained just by looking at the car, and had numerical calculations available in case the judges asked for them.
Another highlight for the team this year was the suspension and traction event.
“The car’s performance in the suspension and traction event was extremely good,” said Dr. Rideout. “We completed the entire course with no penalties, negotiating obstacles that left many other cars stuck or broken.”
Jumana Joury co-captains the team with Jeremy Andrews and says the team had many highlights this year.
“Obviously, qualifying for design finals was the biggest highlight,” she said. “We saw huge improvement in our design performance from placing 42nd last year to qualifying in the top teams this year. With the improved design changes, the vehicle was much more robust and had better handling, ride quality and overall performance during the race. We passed technical inspection on the first day and qualified to race early in the competition allowing us the chance to compete in all dynamic events twice.
“One major accomplishment in the dynamic event was completing the tough suspension and traction track at a competitive time. We placed 28th overall in that category, and finishing the four-hour endurance race with 26 laps.”
This is the last year for Ms. Joury, who will graduate this year with a degree in mechanical engineering.
“We had such an enthusiastic, positive and goal-focused group of people this year,” she said. “The team's strong dedication to see this project succeed was evident throughout the whole year. I've been honoured and humbled to work with and get to know each and everyone of them. I truly couldn't have asked for a better group of people to share this last competition with.”
With a fundamentally sound car, the team plans to do extensive redesigns and testing to reduce its weight in preparation for the 2017 competition.
“They need to redesign as many parts as they can that fit on the car as it is now,” said Dr. Rideout. “They need to keep the car driveable all year, experiment with adjustable systems, such as the transmission, and redesign components for reducing mass. That stuff isn’t glamorous, but it’s what engineering is about. In my opinion, the weight of the car and the need for more testing and adjustments are all that separates Memorial from becoming a Top 10 team.”
Baja team members for the 2016 competition included Jumana Joury, Jeremy Andrews, Kevin King, Tristan Grech, Ben Morgan, Jordan Wilson, Patrick Glavine, Douglas Gibbons, Brittany Freake, Christina Brimingham and Nick Henderson.
The team is thankful for the support they received from their generous sponsors this year, some of which included the Angus Bruneau Student LIFE Program; Atlantic Trailer and Equipment; Briggs & Stratton; Cimetrix Solutions Inc.; GJ Cahill; Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; Hickman Automotive Group; Marine Atlantic; MUN Students’ Union; Michelin Canada; Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador; QTC Metric Gears; Russel Metals Inc.; SAE International; United Sail Works; and VR3 Engineering.
If you wish to sponsor Team Memorial Baja, please visit the team’s Go Fund Me page.