Kettering's Baja Team

Baja team design impresses at competition

Although the team had a setback with the brakes, the competition still provided plenty of learning opportunities.

The Kettering University Baja SAE team finished 56th out of 85 teams at the season-opening Baja SAE event at Tennessee Tech April 18-21.

The team finished 16th in cost and 33rd in endurance. The team was unable to compete in the dynamic events due to an issue with the brakes.

“We found a design flaw in our rear brake system that did not allow us to lock up our rear brakes,” said Zac Watts, a senior Mechanical Engineering major and Business minor who is the Baja team leader. “This is a common issue in SAE Baja and it delayed us from being able to compete in the dynamic events that account for roughly a third of the overall points.”


The Baja SAE team competed in Tennessee in April.

Although the team had a setback with the brakes, the competition still provided plenty of learning opportunities.

“We had problems with the car’s brake system, but the students took it apart, bled the system, figured out what was going and interacted with students from other teams for ideas on how to fix the problem,” said Dr. Arnaldo Mazzei, Mechanical Engineering professor and faculty advisor to the team. “In the end, they solved the issue.”

Along with Watts, the team also consists of Eric Reynolds, Kevin Wright and recent graduate Erik Hardy. The team also collaborates often with Kettering University’s Formula SAE team. The team showed significant strengths in the competition.

“Our biggest strengths are our simplicity in our design, which is mainly due to the small team size,” Watts said. “Our gearbox designs are also bulletproof and have yet to ever fail.”

Cornell, Ohio Northern and Northeastern took the top three spots in the competition.

“The experience is always great,” Mazzei said. “The students design the car, test it on tough competition conditions and come back with feedback for overall engineering improvements for next year. They presented the car and their design to the SAE judges and received very good scores.”

The team showed improvement from last year and also learned what it will take to move another step forward in future competitions.

“This year, our car was lighter and faster than last year,” Mazzei said. “Now they learned that they must improve the brake system and engine mounts.”