MTU Blizzard Baja SAE 2016

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (38)
Views (2)

Why This Project Is Important 

Michigan Technological University's Blizzard Baja SAE Enterprise Program gives students a richer educational experience by giving them applicable engineering skills that cannot be learned in the classroom. Working on a large team of students and doing hands on projects develops them as a person and an engineer. Design for manufacturing is best learned first-hand, where an engineer is tasked with both the design and manufacturing of a project. Baja gives students this experience so they can learn from their mistakes early, before they move on to their professional careers. Blizzard Baja also gives students exposure to teamwork and serves as a professional network that will be useful in their future careers. Learning how to work on a team is something classes, exams, and homework assignments don’t teach students, yet it is incredibly important to their success as an engineer. As detailed in the project description below, the Blizzard Baja team competes in national competitions against universities from around the world. At these competitions the team represents the University, and how the team performs portrays the value of an education from Michigan Tech. Contributing to this organization not only will improve the quality of education students receive from Michigan Tech, it will also improve the University image and reputation. Therefore, the value this organization adds to student’s educational experience, as well as the impact it has on the University, makes Blizzard Baja SAE a very worthy cause.

Project Description 

Notable Innovative Projects (detailed project specifics cannot be proved out of concern of other teams copying our innovations) Gear Box - Baja student engineers are currently developing a new light weight gear box that will be taking advantage of proven technology that has never been used before in the Mini Baja realm. The new gear box will be able to efficiently transfer power to the ground while decreasing rotating mass, increasing product lifespan, and will be easier to manufacture the internals. The gear box will also be a load bearing member with control arms directly mounted to the case. This will reduce the overall weight of the car by decreasing the number of tubes needed to construct the frame. Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) - The new CVT will be lighter, allow the car to accelerate faster, have simpler internals which will improve manufacturability, improve belt life, back shift/downshif faster around corners and up hills, and will be used on the new higher revving engine that will be required for next season. Frame/Drive Train - The 2016 competition vehicle (Charlotte) will be built off a light weight, high strength frame with a new modular drive train to aid in installation, maintenance, and repair. Rear Hub - Two project teams are working on collecting data and designing rear hubs. The old hubs were failing during competitions which was costing the team valuable time during the endurance race. To combat this issue Baja has assigned two senior design teams to solve the problem. One team will focus on obtaining real world forces and failure modes with the old hubs by creating test fixture and plans, running FEA, and obtaining failure data and the second team will use their data to redesign, manufacture, and test the new hubs. Front Knuckle - The old front knuckle tie rod connection point was also prone to failure. Baja has also assigned a senior design team to redesign the front knuckle. The knuckle senior design team has strain gauged control arms and tire rods to obtain real world forces, and has sent previously broken knuckles to sponsors so that failure modes could be identified. They will also test their design in tension and compression testing machines. Driver Seating Position - a comfort study has been conducted to optimize safety and driver comfort in the car. In years past students have been beaten up by the seat and steering wheel location. With the comfort study complete a new custom seat, steering wheel location, and pedal location will now be perfectly placed so that the drive can focus on the race ahead.

The objective of the Blizzard Baja SAE Enterprise Program is to design and manufacture a single seat off-road vehicle, and then use it to compete in national competitions against other schools. The Blizzard Baja SAE Enterprise is comprised of about 50 undergraduate engineering majors from multiple disciplines, as well as several graduate engineering students and undergraduate business majors. The team operates similar to a small business and it is separated into sub-teams that focus on specific vehicle systems. Every student on the team gets to experience the entire 8 step engineering design process. The student first picks a part on the car to re-design. They then brainstorm and research ways to make the part lighter, stronger, cheaper, and easier to manufacture. Next they present their proposed design changes to the team and are then questioned by the faculty adviser and other team members. They are given valuable advice and they begin to design their project using 3D modeling, hand calculations, and Finite Element Analysis that they learn in their classes. Once the design is complete the members undergo a Critical Design Review (CDR) in which they present their design to the team. At the CDR, potential problems are brought to their attention and they are tasked to use those recommendations to complete their final design. Since all of the component designs must work together in the Baja car, so must the team members. This design cycle involves crucial communication between each sub-team. Learning how to work on a team is something that many young engineers struggle with. Getting that exposure as an undergrad helps students become very successful team members upon graduation. It also helps them develop a professional network that will be extremely useful in their professional careers. After the design is finalized the members who designed it then move on to the manufacturing. Some of the hands on process the students get experience with are CNC machining, manual machining, casting, welding, grinding, composite forming, and bending. After manufacturing, individual component undergo testing using methods taught in lab courses such as tension testing. After each component has been thoroughly tested the students assemble the vehicle, which helps them learn about each and every system that goes on an automobile. Post assembly, more testing is conducted and the car is subjected to rigorous obstacles before it is taken to competition.

MTU Blizzard Baja hosts a Winter Race. We design and construct a 1 mile long race track out of the 20+ feet of snow that gets dumped on us each year. Approximately 20 teams and 40 cars attend the race and have fun in an icy winter wonder land. It is the only SAE Baja race to be held during the winter in the US. At national competitions the team competes against 100 other schools in presentations on design, cost, and sales, along with 4 dynamic events and a 4 hour long endurance race. The national competitions occur annually and they are scattered around the country. Testing their designs in a wheel-to-wheel race against other schools teaches the students the importance of proper engineering analysis. Beyond giving students experience with design projects the Baja enterprise also gives them the opportunity to become leaders within the organization. Getting to manage people, foster team cohesion, create and follow a project schedule, control a budget, and communicate with sponsors, are all opportunities that team leaders get as students. Being able to enter a leadership position as a student allows them to learn from their mistakes, much like they do in the design projects. This experience will help them become great leaders in their future careers. As you can see, these students have a unique opportunity to own their design from start to finish, physically build their design using machining practices and fabrications skills, and put their work to the test during a grueling 4 hour endurance race. There are few organizations or projects that give students this level of engineering experience, which makes Baja an invaluable part of student’s educations. For more information please visit our Facebook page and website.

Meet the Researchers

Blizzard Baja SAE

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Kevin Johnson

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of $10,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $254
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Fund our innovative projects such as the gear box, CVT, frame, knuckle, and rear hub. Many of these projects need to be machined but due the back log of parts down in our shop we will need to outsource some of the machining. High quality strain gauges will also need to be purchased for testing purposes.
  • Your donations will help purchase materials and components such as brake calipers, carbon fiber, 2 engines, tires, rims, steering wheel, cv joints, brake master cylinders, tubing, heims, sheet metal, aluminum, bolts, nuts, and plastics.
  • Future innovative projects such as an engine dyno and custom one-off DAQ system that will be design and fabricated in house. The dyno is need to acquire data from the new engine that will be required for all Baja groups come fall of 2016. Blizzard Baja is also in need of a new DAQ system which will be deigned and coded by a few of our members next fall.
  • Competition travel expense.

$10+ 38 Funders

Copper Package - Logo/Name on website, Legacy T-Shirt, Thank you letter

$250+ 11 Funders

Bronze Package - Logo/Name on the website with a hyperlink, name in website streamer, logo/name in Winter Baja live stream on YouTube, logo/name on 2016 Winter Baja T-Shirt, logo/name on competition banner.

$1,000+ 3 Funders

Silver Package - Invite to Sponsor Ride and Drive Day (Date TBD)(you can drive and race our cars), logo/name on the official 2016 competition car, Personal Baja Thank you banner with team picture (4'x4'), Commercial in Winter Baja Live Stream on YouTube.

$1,500+ 1 Funder

Gold Package - On-top of the YouTube live stream commercial, a booth will be set up in our heated (accommodates 4-6 people), companies will be able to interact with other teams in the hot pits during the race ***continued below***

$2,500 1 Funder

Platinum Package - Private Ride and Drive day of your choosing, 4'x8' Thank you banner with picture of the team and you at the personal ride and drive.

***Gold Package CONTINUED - banners can be hung in the gym and on the race track, you will also be invited to speak at the awards ceremony.*** All sponsorship packages can be customized if requested. These donations are separate from AMS donations.

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