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Penn College Team to Vie for Honors in ‘Mini Baja’ Competition at RIT


A member of Pennsylvania College of Technology%E2%80%99s team of Mini Baja competitors makes a practice run recently at an off-road course near Milesburg.A team of six Pennsylvania College of Technology students who have dedicated uncounted hours of free time to preparing their Mini Baja vehicle for competition will take it on the road to Rochester, N.Y., in early June.

The students will compete against 140 other college teams at a Society of Automotive Engineers-sponsored event June 7-10. Teams from colleges and universities around the world including South Africa and India have registered for the contest, which is hosted this year by Rochester Institute of Technology.

Baja SAE consists of three U.S. competitions, each in a different region, that simulate real-world design projects and their related challenges. Engineering and engineering technology students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain and water.

The students who will represent Penn College are members of the college’s student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. In their first year of competition in 2006, the team fared better than typical “rookie” teams, finishing in the top 10 in a mud-bog event and finishing 12th in the design competition. For 2007, they’ve made improvements to their vehicle, including changing its rear suspension and drivetrain, and reducing the car’s overall weight.

Following technical inspections and design judging, for 2007, the team’s Mini Baja will endure a day of grueling events that include a hill climb and other off-road tests of land maneuverability, acceleration, and suspension and traction.

On the final day of competition, cars that have survived the first day of dynamic events will compete in a four-hour endurance test, during which teams complete as many laps as possible, taking breaks if needed to repair their vehicles and return to the track.

Making up the 2007 team are captain Zachary R. Mazur, New Kensington, manufacturing engineering technology; David L. Kerstetter, Plymouth Meeting, manufacturing engineering technology; Chase A. Mathews, Casstown, Ohio, manufacturing engineering technology; Douglas L. Shirk, Paxtonville, automated manufacturing technology; Lance C. Spotts, Julian, toolmaking technology; and Thaddeus J. Temple, Trout Run, manufacturing engineering technology.

The adviser for the student chapter of SME and its Mini Baja team is John G. Upcraft, instructor of machine tool technology. The group has also received help throughout the spring semester from other students in the automated manufacturing/machining/toolmaking department, and have received donations and discounts from such businesses as Ingersoll-Rand, which provided many tools to the team at no cost; PowerTrain Technologies; Gorilla Axles; Penske Racing; and Orelli Supply Co.

Mazur expressed appreciation for the college and its School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies, which offers the students a space in the machining laboratory to work on the project and offers access to its equipment a luxury he said many competing teams don’t have.

For more information about the event, visit the RIT Web site or the SAE student site elsewhere on the Web .

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4520 or visit online .

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