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Penn College Team Excels at International Competition


A determined group of Pennsylvania College of Technology students enrolled in manufacturing-related majors proved to be among the best in the world at a recent high-powered international competition.

The nine-member Penn College contingent produced three top-five showings for individual events and finished 11th overall out of 98 collegiate teams at Baja SAE Rochester. The demanding Society of Automotive Engineers competition held at Rochester Institute of Technology required students to design and build a single-seat, off-road vehicle to be inspected by industry judges and to survive various performance tests.

“I am very proud of these students. They worked so hard, and it was great to see their effort pay off against tough competition,” said John G. Upcraft, instructor of automated manufacturing and machining and the team’s adviser. “We’ve participated in Baja SAE for about 10 years, and this is the best we have done overall. The students proved that they can beat teams from much larger schools.”

Nathan M. Eckstein, of Cambridge Springs, navigates the Penn College (No. 71) car during the four-hour endurance race at Baja SAE Rochester. Penn College claimed fifth place in the event.
Nathan M. Eckstein, of Cambridge Springs, navigates the Penn College (No. 71) car during the four-hour endurance race at Baja SAE Rochester. Penn College claimed fifth place in the event.

Penn College’s 11th overall finish bested the likes of Auburn, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, Lehigh, Johns Hopkins, Boston University, Virginia Tech and Tennessee Tech, as well as schools from Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and South Korea.

“Our finish provided a lot of validation for the amount of effort we put into the project,” said team captain Clinton R. Bettner, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Beaver Falls. “We achieved the results we were expecting.”

In addition to Bettner, students representing Penn College at Baja SAE Rochester were manufacturing engineering technology majors Logan B. Goodhart, of Chambersburg; Jason B. Miller, of Mount Joy; Shane A. Linderman, of Leesport; Nathan M. Eckstein, of Cambridge Springs; Ryan M. MacFarland, of Revere; and Shujaa AlQahtani, of State College; engineering design technology major Tanner A. Huff, of Altoona; and mechatronics engineering technology major Johnathan T. Capps, of North Wales.

The same group of students finished 30th overall at Baja SAE Tennessee Tech in April. Impact with a tree stump damaged the team’s 380-pound car during that competition, which challenged the students’ preparation for the Rochester event. They had just six weeks to manufacture replacement parts and spares of A-arms and steering knuckles, assemble the new components and test the car, which was powered by a 10-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine.

Members of the Penn College Baja SAE team celebrate after finishing fifth in the endurance race and 11th overall out of 98 teams at Baja SAE Rochester. From left are John G. Upcraft, team adviser; Nathan M. Eckstein, of Cambridge Springs; Clinton R. Bettner, of Beaver Falls; Tanner A. Huff, of Altoona; Logan B. Goodhart, of Chambersburg; Shane A. Linderman, of Leesport; Johnathan T. Capps, of North Wales; Shujaa AlQahtani, of State College; Jason B. Miller, of Mount Joy; and Ryan M. MacFarland, of Revere.
Members of the Penn College Baja SAE team celebrate after finishing fifth in the endurance race and 11th overall out of 98 teams at Baja SAE Rochester. From left are John G. Upcraft, team adviser; Nathan M. Eckstein, of Cambridge Springs; Clinton R. Bettner, of Beaver Falls; Tanner A. Huff, of Altoona; Logan B. Goodhart, of Chambersburg; Shane A. Linderman, of Leesport; Johnathan T. Capps, of North Wales; Shujaa AlQahtani, of State College; Jason B. Miller, of Mount Joy; and Ryan M. MacFarland, of Revere.

“They worked like heck to make the replacement parts and spares,” Upcraft said. “They put some serious time in, even during finals week.”

That devotion paid off in Rochester.

The Penn College students tied for first with their cost report — judged for accuracy of all car costs — and 13th for the cost effectiveness of the dune buggy-like vehicle.

In dynamic events, the Penn College crew finished second in suspension and traction and 20th in maneuverability.

Upcraft was most proud of the team’s fifth-place finish in the marquee event at Baja SAE Rochester: the four-hour endurance race over rough terrain. Penn College completed 47 laps in the competition, won by the University of Michigan, which also claimed the top spot in the overall standings.

“With that hilly course and the quality of competition, we did the best we could do in the endurance race,” Upcraft said. “It was a perfect run. We only had to pit for fuel.”

Penn College began the race in the 59th position, but methodically moved to ninth place within an hour. During the last half of the event, the team navigated to fifth place and held on for the impressive finish.

“Our vehicle and team philosophies are on the right track for us being one of the top schools in the competition,” Bettner said. “But we couldn’t have done as well as we did without the support of the college and our sponsors. That’s a big part of it.”

Eckstein drives the college's entry to a second-place finish in the suspension and traction event at Baja SAE Rochester.
Eckstein drives the college’s entry to a second-place finish in the suspension and traction event at Baja SAE Rochester.

According to Upcraft, the team hopes to build on its success and compete in at least two Baja SAE events during the 2016-17 academic year.

“My guys want to be a major player in Baja SAE,” Upcraft said. “They are already looking forward to next year and aiming to do even better. When they get back to school, we will be coming up with plans for the car and ordering parts.”

For additional news about the Penn College Baja SAE team, including photos and videos from the Rochester competition, go to the team’s page on Facebook.

For information on manufacturing-related programs and other majors offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Comments

Cindy Hoffer,

This is awesome! Way to go, guys! Tanner, we are so proud of you and your accomplishments so far, and we wish you continued success at Penn College and in your internship at New Pig Corporation.

Peggy,

Tanner Huff – way to go!

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