Midnight Mayhem/S&T’s Resurgent BAJA! Team

S&T’s off-road races suffered through a difficult design year in 2011-2012, attending only of three planned events and struggling mightily in the endurance race. But that is changing, starting NOW. BajamayhemIMG_1604.jpg
Last week the S&T mud-bugs turned it around with an outstanding performance at Midnight Mayhem IV, the University of Louisville’s almost annual four-hour, middle-of-the-night endurance race*.
Just a few days later, when leader Wes Englund and PR chief Karl Hansen made the team’s annual presentation to S&T’s Academy of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, it was clear there was a “new sheriff in town.”
Karl and Wes, dresses in decidedly non Baja-type suits, took the bull by the horns in admitting past failures, and personally guaranteed this august group of S&T grads that things would be different. And things are already different!
Wes laid out a heavy focus on project management, documentation and training new team members to be professional, dirt-under-the-fingernails engineers while outlining a new organizational approach. They’ll re-engineer their current vehicle to compete in the spring, while starting the 2014 design nearly a year early.
And promised the vehicle will be competiton-ready by Christmas.
Mayhem2IMG_1862.jpgBack to the chilly event, 40 collegiate teams showed up for valuable dynamic testing and practice cleverly disguised as good ol’ fashioned FUN! While the FB site makes it look as if inmates were running the asylum it wasn’t just a joyride.
BajaIMG_1622.jpgGood organization, proper track, and real sponsorship mimicked the “real” Baja SAE design competitions. S&T’s chassis and drivetrain modifications paid off with 6th overall; 5th in endurance, 6th in acceleration and 13th in maneuverability. They confirmed design changes that need to be made, got the new members all excited, and now have great confidence in their ability to improve. A lot.
*Any similarity of this photo to quitting time on the S&T campus is strictly coincidental…….