A group of mechan­ical engi­neering stu­dents who designed, built and raced an all-​​terrain vehicle for Northeastern’s chapter of Baja SAE placed fourth overall out of approx­i­mately 100 teams at a national com­pe­ti­tion held last week at Auburn Uni­ver­sity. The motor­sports team, which also placed second in the competition’s endurance race, has never had a more impres­sive showing.

Baja SAE is an inter­col­le­giate design com­pe­ti­tion run by the Society of Auto­mo­tive Engineers.

We put a lot of pride into this,” said junior Michael Minerbi. “We’re really hon­ored to carry on the win­ning legacy of the North­eastern Baja team and set a new stan­dard for future teams to look up to.”

The North­eastern team designed and fab­ri­cated nearly every aspect of the vehicle, except for a few com­po­nents such as the brakes, tires and shocks. The 450-​​pound, four-​​by-​​four off-​​road buggy, was con­structed to with­stand the rigors of the gru­eling four-​​hour endurance race, which is con­sid­ered the heart of the overall competition.

Junior Andy Benn, the club’s co-​​captain, dis­cussed the expe­ri­ence from Idaho. He and his team­mates are cur­rently trav­eling by van to Oregon State Uni­ver­sity for the second of three com­pe­ti­tions, the last of which will be held in June at the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin-​​Madison.

What we’ve learned from our expe­ri­ence is to plan for the unex­pected,” he said, adding that the club’s vast knowl­edge of their vehicle comes in handy when per­forming main­te­nance on campus or in the thick of a tight race.

The North­eastern Baja SAE team, with their all– ter­rain vehicle at Auburn University.

The North­eastern Baja SAE club was started in 1985 and has earned 19 top-​​10 fin­ishes in national com­pe­ti­tions since 1999.

The club, team mem­bers say, sim­u­lates the real-​​world engi­neering, design, busi­ness and mar­keting chal­lenges of bringing a vehicle to mass market.

Benn attrib­uted the club’s suc­cess in part to the sup­port from North­eastern alumni who were part of the Baja team and remain con­nected many years later.

This team is really an exten­sion of prac­tical edu­ca­tion and real-​​world expe­ri­ence we receive at North­eastern, and it’s another way we can con­tinue learning out­side the class­room,” he said.