Baja team takes first
A land- and water-traversing vehicle built by the Cornell Baja Racing Team took first place against 70 other teams at a June 10–13 competition in Rochester, N.Y.
In its sixth year, the Baja racing team, which builds an off-road vehicle designed to withstand a variety of difficult terrains, took the top overall prize at the International Baja SAE (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) competition held at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). It was their first overall first-place finish.
Also for the first time, the team took its vehicle, GP06 (named in honor of George Petry, an unofficial team adviser), to the water. The RIT competition required vehicles to drive through standing water as part of the endurance race. It was a chance for the team to showcase its first amphibious vehicle—no small feat, considering the engineering challenges associated with such versatility.
The Cornell students’ design involved a hydrodynamic flotation system on the underbelly of the car, explained team co-leader Andrew Cypher ’10 MSE, and two fenders that let the tires spin in the water and propel the car forward, much like a jet ski.
"A lot of compromises had to be made," Cypher said. "A lot of things that are faster in the water are slower on land."
During the four-hour endurance race, the Cornell students thought all was lost when the car nose-dived and flipped, setting them back a half hour to replace several parts and repair the engine. But thanks to some skillful driving by Connor Broaddus ’10 ME and Alexander Kopache ’10 BE, GP06 surpassed car after car and came in fourth—allowing them to earn enough points to win the competition.
"They just drove lights out," Cypher said.
As in years past, the team was also judged in such dynamic and static categories as design, maneuverability, suspension, and cost.