Catching the "Baja Bug" at Notre Dame
Taking what you learn inside a classroom and applying it to the real world doesn’t normally involve accidentally off-roading into a ditch and getting covered head-to-toe in mud while testing a product that you’ve built – but it’s an annual event for the Notre Dame Baja SAE club.
Each year, the club uses its mechanical engineering background to design, build, test and race a single-passenger off-road vehicle against more than 100 universities in international competitions.
While their Mech-E skills help the students successfully design and build suspensions, chassis, brakes and steering components, they’re also learning how to interface with corporations and brokering sponsorships, working with a team to account for possible mistakes and pitfalls, and taking pride and ownership in the finished product.
As David Berno puts it, “It’s not about just finishing an assignment to the point where you turn it in and you get some grade on it. It’s about putting your best foot forward and putting the University’s name on it. This is something that you’ve built.”