Baja SAE consists of three regional competitions and several international events, that simulate real-world engineering projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are given a mission to design and build a single-seat, all-terrain, sporting vehicle performs well with speed, handling, ride, and ruggedness over rough terrain and off-road conditions.
Each competition is comprised of various static and dynamic events. Not every competition has the same events, but they include a mix of Cost, Design, and Sales Presentation for static events, and Acceleration, Maneuverability, Pulling, Suspension & Traction, Hill Climb, Rock Crawl, and Endurance for Dynamic events.
The object of the competition is to provide students with a challenging project that involves the planning and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the market. Teams compete against one another to have their design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. Students must function as a team not only to design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle within the limits of the rules, but also to generate sponsors for their vehicle and promote their team while still managing their educational priorities.
All vehicles are powered by a 10 horsepower Intek Model 20 Briggs & Stratton engine. Use of the same engine by all the teams creates a more challenging playing field for all of the teams.
The University of Oklahoma has a wide variety of student engineering projects. Teams other than SOR include the Sooner Racing Team (FSAE), Design Build Fly, Concrete Canoe, and Steel Bridge. OU has had a long history with Baja, hosting and winning numerous competitions back in the mid 90’s, and having multiple teams, including an all female team. At the turn of the century, the team found itself lacking support to continue to function and was disbanded. In 2010, under the leadership of Dr. John Fagan, the team was started again, and has been traveling to competition since.
The Baja vehicle is built in-house at the OU AME machine shop and the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility (EPF), where students are able to get hands on experience from the concept design stage all the way through testing and competition preparation. This allows students to firsthand experience various software used for things such as CAD & CAM, FEA, etc. as well as student created spreadsheets and software used for designing the car. When it comes time to actually construct the car, the students have the opportunity to use and hone their skills on CNC Mills and a CNC lathe, as well as a various assortment of manual machines commonly found in any machine shop. This helps move students closer to being the best in the industry as soon as they leave the university.