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Tuesday, 23 May 2006

CPUT Mini Baja competes in USA

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Two teams from the Mechanical Engineering department flew to the United States to compete in the International Mini Baja Competition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 24 May 2006.

It is a design competition where degree students from institutions around the world compete with off-road vehicles designed and built by themselves.

Starting with only a rulebook and a Briggs & Stratten 10 hp engine, students are required to devise a concept design which they refine until they have a final design. The students then build the vehicle and take part in the competition.

“In the Mechanical Engineering Department we strive to give the students the best quality education in real world engineering and the Mini Baja Competition is a good opportunity to do this.

We have always done well, and have won the Western Cape Competition every year since 2002, as well as coming third for the last four years in the South African National Competition. Last year we finally managed to win that elusive first place out of 35 teams competing as well as coming third, winning the Social Class and receiving seven trophies in total,” said Mr Dave Evans, lecturer in the department and spokesperson for the team.

He said after taking first place in the national competition it now seems the right time to send a team to the United States where the competition is much larger and tougher with 140 teams competing.

“The students represent CPUT and South Africa, and get a chance to prove that we can compete with the world’s best. This is also our chance to introduce the ability of the new institution to the rest of the world,” he added.

The competition enjoyed coverage on KykNet, Hip2b2 on SABC 2 and radio. Mr Evans said the idea behind the visit is not only to compete, but also for the students to visit industry and other academic institutions and to tour the Harley Davidson factory.

He said, “This is no ‘paper project’. How the students perform in the competition depends on all of the work and decisions taken during the year and the experience that the students gain from this is invaluable.

This is real engineering where the students’ design choices have a real effect on their performance.”The project encompasses many disciplines such as mechanical design, strengths of materials, manufacturing technology, mechanics of machines, CAD, and costing.

A complete design and costing report must be submitted, which forms a part of the student’s academic marks.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za