Northeastern’s chapter of Baja SAE recently com­pleted another suc­cessful season, fin­ishing 8th overall in the third and final com­pe­ti­tion of the year held in Illi­nois ear­lier this month.

Baja SAE is an inter­col­le­giate design and motor­sport com­pe­ti­tion run by the Society of Auto­mo­tive Engi­neers, in which engi­neering stu­dents design, dis­play, and race vehi­cles. Here, former team cap­tain Matt Nuss­baum, E’14, and incoming cap­tain Dalton Colen, E’16, share five facts about the team and its vehicle.

1. Baja is one of the Society of Auto­mo­tive Engi­neers’ longest-​​running com­pe­ti­tions and the only SAE com­pe­ti­tion in which Northeastern’s team com­petes. Teams design cars that can handle a rock crawl, an accel­er­a­tion test, and a four-​​hour endurance race. These com­pe­ti­tions also include an expo where teams dis­play their vehi­cles and meet industry experts to dis­cuss the cars’ designs and their poten­tial for becoming a startup venture.

2. Northeastern’s ’14 car, named for the year it raced, can reach speeds up to 31 miles per hour. Prior to this year’s com­pe­ti­tions the team redesigned the vehicle in hopes of making it lighter yet still be able to handle the endurance race. Stu­dents were able to trim the car’s weight from 450 pounds to about 400 pounds by making changes to the car’s frame, sus­pen­sion, and steering.

3. Cars designed by North­eastern stu­dents have a rep­u­ta­tion for per­forming well in the endurance race. In three endurance races this year, North­eastern fin­ished 14th, 24th, and fifth, respec­tively. Typ­i­cally, only about half of the entrants don’t make it past the first two laps.

4. Northeastern’s car has two very unique fea­tures, according to Colen. The car’s han­dlebar steering, instead of a reg­ular steering wheel, allows dri­vers to engage their chest and arm mus­cles more in the demanding off-​​road sit­u­a­tions rather than just their wrists. The vehicle’s six-​​speed manual trans­mis­sion also makes for a more driver-​​involved experience.

5. Being part of the Baja team has not only allowed stu­dents a chance to com­pete and develop their engi­neering skills, but the skills and expe­ri­ence gained through these oppor­tu­ni­ties have also helped stu­dents secure co-​​ops at com­pa­nies such as Bose, Instron, Qinetiq, Keurig, Fikst, and Boston Dynamics, Colen said. Stu­dents inter­ested in joining the team for the upcoming 2014–15 aca­d­emic year should visit the team’s website.