En­gi­neer­ing col­lege stu­dents take a field trip with the ma­chines built by them. Oh, they race them, too

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Joshua Varghese Pho­tog­ra­phy: Mahindra SAE Baja

As mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists, we get to drive and ex­pe­ri­ence some bril­liant ma­chines. Some are en­gi­neered to such a level of per­fec­tion that we have to pinch our­selves to make sure we are not dream­ing. Some of those master­pieces may have had a hum­ble be­gin­ning, per­haps start­ing out as a dream in some young mind. We were at IITRopar, Pun­jab, for the 11th edi­tion of Baja SAE In­dia to wit­ness sim­i­larly mo­ti­vated young­sters put their cre­ations to the test. Salut­ing the strug­gle be­hind the cre­ation of au­to­mo­tive marvels, this year the theme was “Ground to Glory”.

Since 2007, Baja SAE In­dia have been giv­ing en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents across the coun­try a plat­form to show­case their in­tel­lect and grit, and their ve­hi­cles’ met­tle. Due to the large turnout, this year it was con­ducted in two parts, one near In­dore, Mad­hya Pradesh, and the other at Ropar, Pun­jab. Of the 388 reg­is­tra­tions, 60 teams were cho­sen for the IIT-Ropar fi­nale. Un­like the first leg of the com­pe­ti­tion held in Pitham­pur, this one did not fea­ture elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

For the fi­nal event at IIT-Ropar, the teams had to clear the vir­tual round held at the Chitkara Univer­sity, Chandigarh, in July 2017. The teams that cleared that round set about build­ing their ve­hi­cles. The ve­hi­cle had to be a sin­gle-seater all-ter­rain buggy that was easy to ma­noeu­vre and trans­port. The stu­dents were ex­pected to fab­ri­cate their de­sign with­out any help from a pro­fes­sional. All teams had to use the same model Briggs & Strat­ton sin­gle-cylin­der en­gine and their ve­hi­cles’ speed had to be re­stricted to 60 km/h. A team’s win­ning edge over their com­pe­ti­tion de­pended on how they op­ti­mized weight in their de­sign, how ef­fi­cient the trans­mis­sion was and, of course, the driver’s skill.

In the first week of March 2018, the se­lected teams and their ve­hi­cles ar­rived at IIT-Ropar. The four-day event in­cluded a tech­ni­cal in­spec­tion, static eval­u­a­tion (de­sign, cost and sales pre­sen­ta­tion) and dy­namic events such as ac­cel­er­a­tion, brak­ing, sled pull, sus­pen­sion and trac­tion, and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity.

Post tech­ni­cal in­spec­tion, only 25 teams made it to the en­durance round. Af­ter a sight­ing lap, the cars were flagged off one af­ter the other and they set off leav­ing a cloud of dust, aim­ing to con­quer the 2.98-km race­track. The course was de­signed to put key el­e­ments of the ve­hi­cle to test and con­sisted of muddy pits, slopes, and el­e­va­tions, some­times more than 15 feet high. The cars

com­pleted the first lap with­out much drama. Then things got in­ter­est­ing. The muddy pits be­came tough to tra­verse and suc­cess­fully killed the mo­men­tum of the cars. Driv­ers had to find the line of least re­sis­tance to make it through the mud with­out los­ing a lot of time. Thirty min­utes into the race, driv­ers be­gan pulling into the pits to make quick re­pairs and to re­fuel. An hour later, one of the teams had to re­tire from the race due to tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties and soon oth­ers started fol­low­ing suit.

SKN Sin­hgad In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Science, Lon­avala (car num­ber 51), dom­i­nated for most part of the race (28 laps). They were closely fol­lowed by the Gov­ern­ment Col­lege of Tech­nol­ogy, Coim­bat­ore (car num­ber 15), and the Gov­ern­ment Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing, Au­rangabad (car num­ber 14). To­wards the end of the race, only 13 cars were left on the cir­cuit.

With their team-mates and friends cheer­ing them on, the lead­ing cars crossed the finish line at the end of four hours. At Baja SAE In­dia, cross­ing the line first does not en­sure a win. The win­ners were de­cided by their over­all per­for­mance in the pre­vi­ous events as well.

The Gov­ern­ment Col­lege of Tech­nol­ogy, Coim­bat­ore, Tamil Nadu, won the com­pe­ti­tion and also a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh. The Gov­ern­ment Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing, Au­rangabad, Ma­ha­rash­tra, claimed the sec­ond place and re­ceived a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. Varinder Singh from the fac­ulty of the Chitkara Univer­sity, Ra­jpura, was awarded the Dronacharaya Award in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of his role as a men­tor to his stu­dents. Mahindra and SAE In­dia are do­ing a com­mend­able job in iden­ti­fy­ing young tal­ent who could con­trib­ute to the field of au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing in the near fu­ture. In an age where most en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents rarely step out of a class­room, it was in­spir­ing to see these young chaps ap­ply their knowl­edge in real-life sit­u­a­tions and grow as en­gi­neers in the process. The event also helps the stu­dents to se­cure jobs in some lead­ing au­to­mo­tive com­pa­nies. Let’s hope more stu­dents come for­ward for the fol­low­ing edi­tions of Baja SAE In­dia.

When asked what he had to say to fu­ture par­tic­i­pants, Dr Sud­hir Gupte, Head of Au­to­mo­bile En­gi­neer­ing at the A D Pa­tel In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and the chief co-or­di­na­tor of Baja SAE In­dia 2018, IIT-Ropar, said,

It is all about team­work and fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge of au­to­mo­biles. Keep it sim­ple

( Above left) The team from GCT, Coim­bat­ore claimed first prize

( Left) The mar­shals were vig­i­lant and al­ways ready to help

( Above) The stu­dents from GCE, Au­rangabad had to set­tle for sec­ond place

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