Tucked away on a hillside and up a long gravel road, more than 1,200 college students set up shop for four days of the Baja SAE Oregon competition in Washington State. Their goal? Outperform their peers in a premiere engineering event created exclusively for students to design, build and test an off-road vehicle.
Since 2006, Weir ESCO has been a proud Baja sponsor. ESCO Engineer, Steven Hyde, explains why. “We know the value of real-world learning opportunities for students. Putting on the Baja SAE Oregon competition gives students a capstone opportunity to apply what they have learned and on a grand scale by designing and building a full race car from scratch,” he said.
The 2015 Event Chair added, “Many Portland-based employees like myself come from Baja programs, and we know first-hand the value engineering design competitions provide for the confidence and capability of future engineers.”
In addition to Weir ESCO’s company sponsorship, employees are invited to staff a range of events, including design judge, roles assumed by Eugene Havenga and Jacob Mikulsky this year.
More than a dozen Weir ESCO employees provided their expertise and time alongside other industry partners to organize the event for students representing 73 universities from around the globe.
Students must prove that their hand-built car passes rigorous technical inspections, showcase their engineering efforts in the design event, and give a technical business presentation. To test the limits of their off-road vehicle, they compete in five driving events: acceleration, maneuverability, rock crawl, hill climb and a rigorous, four-hour endurance test. It is no small task to lay out and run each of the events, and make sure they are safe, challenging, and fair.
“To see students get this invaluable, real-world experience shows me someone who’s developed dependability, grit and resilience. That’s who I want to work with.”
From classroom to career
To build the best vehicle, out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and carefully planned experimentation are critical to success. Attention to detail, preparation and working well under pressure are unique skills that are challenging to develop in students, yet will prove invaluable to their future careers. That’s where Baja SAE comes in.
Weir ESCO’s JacobMikulsky and Eugene Havenga, both judges this year, agreed that the competition builds confidence in design engineering, but also teaches real-world professional and entrepreneurial skills. Students work through iteration after iteration—much like the process Jacob has refined from the shop floors of Wisconsin to the Texas oil rigs to ESCO’s cable shovel team.
“For the students, the competition requires constant refinement and optimization,” said the cable shovel design engineer, “just like the engineering design principles and processes I use every day to develop mining products.”
Baja SAE Oregon 2023 Facts & Figures
73 Universities 5 Countries: U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia 1,243 Students 19 National and Local Sponsors 4 Days 8 Events
Cost Business Presentation Design Judging Acceleration Maneuverability Rock Crawl Hill Climb 4-Hour Endurance Test
For all involved, an important goal is helping students make the connection between their Baja experience and their future career aspirations.
“It is exciting for us to play a small part in enabling young people to pursue engineering or technical careers. I’m thrilled to see Weir ESCO take on such an active role in Baja and STEM education,” shared Steven. “That’s extremely attractive when we are recruiting highly trained, talented engineers.”
Added Jacob, “To see students get this invaluable, real-world experience shows me someone who’s developed dependability, grit and resilience. That’s who I want to work with.”
Come make your mark.
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