Florida Tech Motorsports: SAE Mini Baha
If you are one of those types of people who doesn’t mind getting down in the mud and enjoys driving over anything other than asphalt, then the SAE Mini Baha senior design project is just for you. The Mini Baha makes up another third of the Florida Tech Motorsports family, along with the Drag Car project. However, unlike the Drag Car senior design project, Florida Tech has been participating in this one for a few years now.
The SAE Mini Baha senior design team, led by Matthew Holt, sets out to design and build a fully functional Mini Baha car that is to compete in the SAE’s (Society of Automotive Engineers) Baha competition. The Baha car is a combination of an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) and a UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) that can run through rocks, mud and even shallow water. Basically, this is a really heavy duty car than can traverse over some funky terrain and take all the impact from going over drops or holes. The Florida Tech Baha team also has to be able to keep last year’s car running along with this year’s car. This is so that they have no advantage over other senior design teams that are brand new and do not have old designs or prototypes to go off of.
In the Baha competition, each team has to complete a series of four dynamic events in which they are judged on. The type of dynamic events range depending on which state is hosting the competition, but some that have happened in the past are events such as the hill climb, the rock crawl, and even maneuverability. Other competitions also require a suspension test and an endurance test to see if the built Mini Baha can withstand running for a long period of time.
I sat down with Holt to discuss what his hopes, expectations and outlook is for this senior design team.
Why did you decide to be the team lead and what do you expect to get out of being leader as opposed to just a member of the team?
I decided to be the team leader for my project because I have managerial skills and experience having been in the Military, so for me it’s more natural around other students who don’t jump at the idea. Even though I have experience, I still expect to further hone my leadership skills in areas such as engineering management and decisions, as well as adjust my tactics when it comes to being a leader of Marines, to being a leader to civilians and more specifically students.
What is the biggest obstacle you think your team will have to overcome this semester?
Ultimately, the biggest obstacle my team will have to overcome is time. The limit of time we have affects every aspect of what we do. It forces your team to start off running and keeps the whole design process at a fast pace so it always feels like crunch time, which can be exhausting when coupled with classes.
What are you most excited to work on for your project?
The part of the project I look forward to working on the most is definitely building something from raw material. To design, analyze, then build something really instills a great sense of pride and really motivates the team.
What is the most important lesson you think you’ve learned from last year’s team?
The most important thing I’ve learned from last year’s team would have to be documentation. As detailed documentation as possible of everything. This is because when you are hard-pressed for time and don’t have the people who built the system you are working on or fixing, when the documentation isn’t there, you are stuck trying to think how or why they did something instead of focusing on how to fix it.
Be sure to keep posted on team Mini Baha’s project, and come out and see their final product during this school year’s senior showcase!
This competition is not the mini Baja, it is the Baja SAE competition.