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Lessons Learned from Starting an SAE Baja Program in a Small Liberal Arts College

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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

25.891.1 - 25.891.18



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Paper Authors


David C. Che Geneva College

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David Che has been an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Penn., since 2008. He currently is also the Director of the Pinkerton Center for Technology Development at Geneva College. He received his B.S.E in precision engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, P. R. China, his M.S in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, and Ph.D in mechanical engineering from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. He worked as a senior research/project engineer at General Motors Corporation from 1997-2005. He also served as general manager of Stafast Products, Inc.’s Asia operations in China from 2005-2008.

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David Allen Clark Geneva College

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David Clark is the Co-director for the Pinkerton Center for Technology Development at Geneva College. He obtained bachelor's of science degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and applied mathematics from Geneva College. Clark had 13 years of industrial experience working at Ellwood City Forge in Ellwood City, Penn.

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David W. Shaw Geneva College

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Dave Shaw is a professor of mechanical engineering at Geneva College and has sponsored student teams in competitions since 1994. He has also enjoyed teaching the freshman-level introduction to engineering course, helping students get hands-on experience with a variety of projects over the past 12 years.
He loves the outdoors, including hiking, biking, canoeing, and camping, and is blessed to have friends and family that share that love.

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James S. Gidley Geneva College

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Lessons Learned from Starting a SAE Baja Team in a Small Liberal Arts CollegeAbstractThis paper documents the brief history of SAE Baja project at a small liberal arts college. For asmall mechanical engineering program like ours, it was never thought possible that a SAE Bajateam would ever be formed and financed. But a series of events happened in 2009 that promptedthe birth of the college’s first ever SAE Baja team. It was quite a journey for all involved. Westarted from scratch with no experience and no resources. The learning curve was steep duringthe first year, and there were crisis moments during the second year. And now we are on thejourney of a third year team.It was set up as part of a senior capstone design project since its start. We soon realized that itwas not all vehicle dynamics that we had to deal with, but also team dynamics and communityengagement. Lessons were learned in building a successful team and the importance of teamwork, individual accountability and communications. From a technical standpoint, we wentthrough some major milestones in vehicle development in a short period of time. For suspension,we went from using an existing ATV suspension, to a custom designed independent front andrear suspension of our own. For transmission, we went from a Yamaha dirt bike manualtransmission to a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), all in a span of two short years.From community engagement standpoint, we were able to pull all local resources we could findto help us and experienced some selfless help from other collegiate teams. Tips are shared onmany aspects of the project, from how to get a team started, to how to find resources for eachcategory and stage of vehicle development, up to competition preparation and participation.

Che, D. C., & Clark, D. A., & Shaw, D. W., & Gidley, J. S. (2012, June), Lessons Learned from Starting an SAE Baja Program in a Small Liberal Arts College Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21648

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