Student Group Spotlight: CWRU Baja SAE

Nick Bi ’16 and Linda Relson ’16, Mechanical Engineering

CWRU Baja SAE is a team of undergraduate engineering students who design, build, test, and race an off-road vehicle. Last year was a record-setting season, as they competed in all three official Baja SAE competitions for the first time in the team's history, and finished in 8th place overall among all U.S. teams at one of the competitions. Co-captains Nick Bi and Linda Relson explain why this year was CWRU Baja SAE’s most exciting yet, and say thank you to the donors who made it possible.

This year was huge for your team – what was your biggest surprise during competition?

Linda: “Definitely the endurance race at the Maryland competition, a grueling four-hour event in which nearly 100 cars race wheel-to-wheel to complete as many laps as possible. It’s the most important event in a Baja SAE competition. Every minute in the race counts. We were thrilled that our car stayed in the race for the entire four hours with no mechanical failures or breaks. What we did not know until later was that our automatic lap counter broke during the race, and the live updates of our standing in the race were incorrect. At the end, when the top 10 cars were pulled aside for inspection, our car was in the lineup. Our whole team was confused and excited. It wasn’t until the drive home that we were able to count the laps from our on-car GPS data to learn we had earned 5th place in the endurance race.”

Why do you think Baja SAE is good experience for an engineering student?

Nick: “Baja is an incredible experience that gives engineering students the most genuine real-world engineering knowledge short of an internship or co-op. Baja is a team-oriented, project-based, and deadline-driven extracurricular activity that allows students to apply the theory and knowledge learned in the classroom to a real, physical product.”

Linda: “Baja has been a place for me to grow as an engineer and a team member. It has given me a sense of confidence in my engineering skills that I could not get from homework or a typical class project. Baja is one of only a few groups on campus that give engineering students the ability to get their hands dirty and experience engineering in a real way.”

How important is sponsorship from an organization like the Case Alumni Association? What does sponsorship make possible?

Nick: “The Case Alumni Association has always been the largest supporter of the Baja team, and is the primary reason that the team can continue to exist. The sponsorship gives the team its financial basis from year to year, which enables us to represent the university at international competitions. Consistent support from the Case Alumni Association has allowed the team to grow and develop over our 14-year history, which hundreds of students have been able to benefit from. We’re so grateful for that continued support."