The baja sae india offers a chance for indian engineering students to get their hands dirty in a competitive setting
Mud, dirt, grease and a ton of excitable college students. What is it that could possibly be being described here? What it looked like was a college fest minus the revelry set in a vast and uneven patch of land in central India.
It was actually the seventh annual Mahindra BAJA SAEINDIA (Society of Automotive Engineers India) competition held at the proving grounds of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Automotive R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) at Pithampur near Indore.
There’s more to the competition than 120 teams from various engineering and technical institutes having fun in the dirt with self-made off-road buggies though.
At its heart the BAJA SAEINDIA is an effort by the Mahindra automotive group to find trainees and potential employees who can master the art of using a standard powerplant and a fixed budget to produce a vehicle that is both light and can stand up to scrutiny based on international testing standards as well as go the distance.
A student competition that is based in the United States, the SAE International competitions have been looking to expand, naturally, to countries where there is scope for growth for the automotive industry like India.
Since its inception in 2007, teams from India have gone to participate in international competitions after the Indian edition but have, for the most part, fallen short in the static tests that test a vehicle’s structural integrity even before moving on to the dynamic tests, including the highlight of the competition; the endurance leg.
Just shy of 120 buggies lined up to start the four hour endurance leg that was held on a 3.6 kilometer long loop complete with inclines, switchbacks and water hazards along with motocross style bumps.
The idea, of course, was not to produce a vehicle fast enough to take those bumps like a motocross bike, but rather to make one light enough to make the best use of the 305cc, 1-cylinder, 10 horsepower Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine available.
In an effort to ready the teams for a potential competition against international teams, SAEINDIA and Mahindra roped in the services of Samuel Barill, the manager for collegiate programs for BAJA SAE in aero design for the US events as part of an effort to convince teams to push the envelope a bit more.
“They could have international participants over right now based on the event as it is,” said Barill to autoX. “But in my view given the demand for the event among Indian engineers (over 300 teams applied before 120 were selected) they should focus on pushing the Indian participants and encouraging them to participate. It’s a view that may not be the same as Mahindra and the other organizers but that’s how I feel.”
Mahindra, for the moment feel it is best to join the ranks of Brazil and the US as countries that hold SAE International grade events.
If for no other reason, to push the Indian engineers a little bit harder. But there is also the matter of raising the profile of the event.
When the BAJA SAE is in town, it makes buzz in Indore to rival any high profile event. It’s a great way to get noticed for sure.