Battling a dirt and rock strewn course near Portland–as well as more than 90 teams from schools as far away as Florida and Mexico–OSU students finished first and third overall in the Society of Automotive Engineers 2004 Mini-Baja West competition.
Belinda King, head of OSU’s department of Mechanical Engineering, said winning first and third is an unprecedented accomplishment for the OSU engineering program. The students competed with students from some of the nation’s best engineering programs on a grueling course that included crawling over huge boulders and logs, as well as a four-hour endurance leg.
And the finish was no fluke. In 2003, an OSU team finished second in the same competition at Logan, Utah.
The interdisciplinary OSU team, coached by mechanical engineering professor Bob Paasch, designed, modeled, tested, and built the racers.
“This definitely shows that OSU’s hands-on approach to engineering education works and works well,” King said.
It worked well for the students pictured above with one of the winning cars. Darren Johnson (right) graduated in June of 2004 went to work at Warn Industries, where he had previously done an internship, and is now a design engineer at the company.
After the team’s victory at the competition, David Elia (left) was contacted by recreational vehicle manufacturer Polaris with an offer of a paid internship. “This is my dream job, and I got it before graduation,” says Elia, now a senior. “And the amazing thing is they called me!”