Embry-Riddle’s Women’s Off-Road Vehicle Design & Racing Team To Compete Soon

By on April 16, 2018 in WNDB News

Daytona Beach, FL – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) all-female Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Team is gearing up to compete in an international off-road racing competition.

ERAU will send nine students to Maryland to participate in the SAE-sponsored competition on April 19 through April 22. The team will travel to Maryland with a toolbox and trailer full of spare parts so they are prepared for any situation the competition may bring.

The competition features a four-hour endurance competition, suspension test, hill climb, rock crawl, sled pull, and maneuverability challenge. The competition also takes into account engineering design and cost analysis. The endurance race will be held on the last day of the competition and will have participating vehicles jump five feet over obstacles.

“The course is so intense that about 60 percent of the vehicles break within the first four laps,” said Alex Mehringer, ERAU’s Women’s Baja SAE Team president and mechanical engineering major. “If something happens during the competition, you are out in a parking lot with whatever tools you brought.”

Mehringer said ERAU’s team is one of only a handful all-female Baja teams in the world and is the longest running. The ERAU Daytona Beach Campus’ all-female Baja SAE team was established in 2005.

Mehringer first heard about the competition when she arrived at Embry-Riddle and she immediately became interested in an opportunity to design, build, and race an off-road vehicle. She began driving off-road vehicles around her grandfather’s farm in Indiana at age nine.

Mehringer said the opportunity to work in an all-female team allows female students to become more comfortable designing and completing fabrication work. She explains that a female student may feel hesitant on a predominately male team. “We [the senior members of the team] work together to build their confidence so they become comfortable using basic tools while working on the vehicle,” said Mehringer.

The students took advantage of the College of Engineering’s High-Performance Vehicle Lab to use 3D CAD (computer-aided design) software and computer numerical control lathes and mills to design and build the ATV-like, single-seater vehicle. According to the team, the vehicle uses a 10 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine.

Ashlee Byron, a first-year Baja participant and mechanical engineering student, said she likes the team and competition because it allows her to figure out solutions to problems that come up. “Working on the car and learning how to use different tools and methods of building something is incredible,” said Byron.

MacKenzie Cunningham, a mechanical engineering graduate student and six-year Baja team veteran, said participation in the team is beneficial to working in the automotive industry. She has been responsible for designing the front and rear suspension of the team’s vehicle. So far, she has had three internships with Tesla’s Vehicle Engineering Test group. This summer, Cunningham will return for her fourth internship with a job opportunity on the horizon when she graduates in the fall. She said the team and the competitions have given her “invaluable” project management experience.

Photo courtesy jamesrmartin and Shutterstock.com.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.


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