Design overhaul shows promising results for Off-Road Illini
The Off-Road Illini, the university’s Baja SAE team, recently completed their competition season. The team competed against nearly 100 teams in each of the three competitions they attended, in Maryland, Kansas, and Oregon.
The competitions were four days long and consisted of four main parts: inspections, static events, dynamic events, and endurance. Passing all inspections is required for the car to drive at competition, and includes engine check, tech inspection, and brake check. The static events focus on the business and design aspects of the car, and allow teams to explain decisions made in the design and manufacturing stages.
The dynamic events consist of a set of four trials unique to each competition and they are designed to test specific factors of the car, such as overall speed and handling. Following these events is endurance, a four-hour race filled with obstacles meant to test cars’ durability.
“The biggest focus this year was building a car that would minimize risks, which led to the best competition performances the team has had in years,” said MechSE undergraduate Josh Rosenthal, former testing lead and upcoming chief engineer. As the season continued, each competition saw increasingly better results. Despite drive shaft issues, the team managed to get 34th place in Maryland, 32nd in Kansas, and 28th in Oregon.
Read more about the Maryland competition here.
At Kansas, there were major setbacks due to weather. However, the Off-road Illini managed to pull through to achieve decent results. In static events, the team ended up getting 17th in sales and 34th in design. In the dynamic events, the results were: 24th in acceleration, 67th in suspension, and 69th in sled pull, but they did not participate in maneuverability due to time constraints. In endurance, though extremely muddy, the team placed 14th.
At Oregon, the team managed to do well overall. In the static events, the team got 10th in sales and 23rd in design. In the dynamic events, the results were: 10th in rock crawl, 22nd in hill climb, 37th in acceleration, and 45th in maneuverability. In endurance, the team placed 45th.
Adam Schmitt, next year’s team captain, said he is happy with the team’s performance.
“This season the team made some big strides in every aspect of the car, which definitely provided us with some well-deserved confidence going forward. We have already been working on next year's design, using insight gained from this entire year to guide our decisions. It is now on the team to flex their engineering knowledge and commit to making even greater strides towards designing and manufacturing a top-tier vehicle in the future.”