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A Faculty Adviser’s Perspective on Developing an SAE Baja Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.42.1 - 25.42.7

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Paper Authors


Robert A. Marlor Northern Michigan University

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Robert Marlor is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Technology Department at Northern Michigan University. He received a Ph.D. in civil-structural engineering from Michigan Technological University n 2003. He is the Faculty Adviser for the NMU SAE Baja team. His research interests include load duration behavior of wood connections, project-based learning in engineering mechanics, and teaching design through SAE Student Design Competitions.

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A Faculty Adviser’s Perspective on Developing an SAE Baja ProgramAbstractTo design, build, and race a successful Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja car, a newSAE club faces a variety of challenges. In 2008, a new SAE student chapter was formed at XXXand the author became the faculty adviser for this club. This paper presents the insights gainedfrom the author’s first three years of developing a new SAE program at XXX.The primary purpose of the SAE club at XXX is to help engineering students develop theknowledge and skills necessary to become competent engineers. Since many students join thisclub in their freshman year, their engineering knowledge and manufacturing skills must developat a rapid pace for them to make a solid contribution to the team. The SAE Baja project providesample opportunity and motivation for students to engage in problem-base learning. Once theinitial challenges of facilities and funding are met, the adviser can focus on coaching andfacilitating this problem-based learning.At the outset, acquiring the facilities and funding needed to build a race car is one largechallenge facing a new SAE club. Adequate shop space, tools, equipment, and supplies must beacquired quickly; thus initial funding must be available if these assets cannot be reallocated fromexisting resources. After the startup costs, funding is needed to purchase parts and supplies for anew car each year. Sponsors and partners from industry can play a vital role in meeting theseannual funding needs.Another primary challenge facing an SAE Baja team is developing teamwork and leadershipwithin the student organization. In the past three years at XXX, several student leadership andorganization styles have been tried, and the positive impact of good organization and leadershiphas been significant.Several obstacles have been overcome in the first few years of XXX SAE club’s existence andthe club has been developing into both a successful student organization and a good trainingground for engineering students. In this paper, the insights gained from the author’s first threeyears in developing a new SAE program at XXX will be presented in the hopes that other facultyadvisers of student design projects can benefit from this experience.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015