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Baja Buggy Student Car Project Races Onward

student posing in welders hat and gear

Photos courtesy of WIT SAE Baja

The pandemic has not slowed down Wentworth’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja club in their quest to build and enhance their Baja buggy race car.

Members of the Class of 2020 started the project on campus, but were forced to close up shop temporarily at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. The student group pushed onward, deciding to focus on creating design tools as opposed to physical design when they moved to a virtual platform. The group focused on the front suspension and steering, drivetrain, rear suspension, and braking of the buggy.

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Often starting its life as a Volkswagen Beetle, a Baja Buggy is modified to be an off-road vehicle, suitable for racing in mud, sand and other harsh environments. Members of WIT SAE Baja—also known as Leopard Racing—have been building the vehicles for years, often entering them into competitions.

“We’ve been taking COVID very seriously since being back at school for the fall semester,” said club member Carson DeMan, noting that the group has met virtually for months.

When campus reopened in September, though, the Baja team began drawing up plans for an in-person return.

“If the club cannot meet in-person, we would not be able to build the car,” said DeMan, a Mechanical Engineering major.

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The club is convening every week and are starting to use lab space next week to go over the current roadblocks of the car. Some of the tasks include creating inventory sheets and running different calculations, working on the car itself, working on various mini projects or working on welding or CNC skills.

Looking ahead, the club will design the car in phases. Each of the projects is engineered for virtual or in-person collaboration—depending on a student’s wishes. The club also notes that the projects should require little background knowledge of cars and engineering. They will be designed to both educate and establish the members of the club in the world of automotive engineering.

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--John Franklin and Greg Abazorius