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UC Baja racing team engineers new off-road vehicle

students work on frame of new car

Two UC students inspect this year's Baja Racing vehicle frame. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

When you think of racing, you probably think speed. But the University of Cincinnati's Bearcats Baja Racing Team is as much about speed as it is about survival – survival of a four-hour endurance challenge.

This grueling opportunity is made possible by the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers, an engineering design competition that simulates a rough-and-tumble experience for utility task vehicles.

“Baja is more than just engineering,” says UC Baja team manager Nic Thome (mechanical engineering technology ’19). “You take it from a design all the way through to manufacturing and a finalized product.”

The product is an off-road vehicle that can survive extreme conditions and stress tests of various competitions. Competitions include a rock crawl, hill climb, obstacle course race, a drop test and various safety tests. The vehicle encounters a series of different terrains that it must overcome without any mishaps or breaks.

More than 100 teams from around the world participate each year in these competitions, the biggest of which is in Rochester, N.Y. The Bearcats Baja Racing Team team typically modifies and improves its vehicle every year in preparation for these competitions. 

This year, however, the team is doing something different. It is building a new vehicle from scratch. 

3 students work on previous year's car

Several UC students work on a previous year's car. To make their new car, the Baja team takes old designs and improves on them. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

The team is dividing the project into subgroups, like front and rear suspension, frame, gear box, steering, pedals and brakes. But even with these subgroups, the biggest challenge will be working together as a team.

“To make an entirely new vehicle, we need to work together and finalize those designs to make sure everything is going to cooperate well,” Thome says.

This year’s team consists of 11 students. Thome and most of the other team members are building the vehicle for their senior design project, but the group is open to anyone who is interested in getting some hands-on experience in the automotive field. 

You’ll get a good base underneath you, understand how to manage time better and also learn personal responsibility. It’s up to you to challenge yourself, and Baja lets you do just that.

Nic Thome, UC Baja team manager

student talking about a part of the car

A UC Baja team member talks to other students about the car. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

The team meets every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Rooms 103 and 104 of UC’s Victory Parkway campus. If students are interested, they can stop by or email Thome directly at thomenr@mail.uc.edu, go to Campus Link or contact the Bearcats Baja Racing Team advisor and Associate Dean Allen Arthur at arthuraa@ucmail.uc.edu.

“I think it would be a fantastic idea for younger students to jump in,” says Thome. “You’ll get a good base underneath you, understand how to manage time better and also learn personal responsibility. It’s up to you to challenge yourself, and Baja lets you do just that.”

As graduation looms for many of the team members, the students hope their new vehicle will leave a lasting mark on the organization, enduring and performing well in competitions long after their time at UC. 

Featured image at top: Two students inspect the frame of this year's Baja racecar design. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

welded cut out sign that reads Cincinnati Bearcats Baja

The UC Baja Racing Team meets every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Rooms 103 and 104 of the Victory Parkway campus. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Become a Part of Bearcats Baja

Interested in joining UC's Baja Racing Team? Stop by the shop, go to Campus Link or email UC Baja Team Manager Nic Thome at thomenr@mail.uc.edu.