Western's Baja SAE team finishes 10th at nationals

Western's Viking 49 goes through its paces at the Baja SAE Nationals in Portlane, Ore., earlier this month. Courtesy photo

Western's Viking 49 goes through its paces at the Baja SAE Nationals in Portlane, Ore., earlier this month. Courtesy photo

Western Today staff

Western Washington University’s Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Viking 49 team placed 10th overall out of a field of 66 university teams at the Baja SAE national competition in Portland, Ore., earlier this month.

The Baja SAE competition challenges engineering students to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. The competition provides a challenging project that involves the planning and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market; teams compete against one another to have their design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. Students must function as a team to not only design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle within the limits of the rules, but also to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.

The competition, which was won by the Universite Laval of Quebec, Canada, puts the vehicles and drivers through a series of tests such as a rock crawl, hill climb, endurance race, and an acceleration test. The scores for each vehicle through all the tests are added to find an overall winner.

Garrett Wiebusch (Puyallup), a junior majoring in Plastics Engineering Technology-Vehicle Engineering Technology, is Western’s Baja SAE team captain. He said the hundreds of hours the team spent working on Viking 49 were well worth it after placing so highly at nationals, ahead of such well-known schools such as the University of Michigan, UCLA, Cal Poly, Michigan State and Auburn.

“Managing this student team is basically the same as managing a professional racing team; we are solely responsible for every part of the car from finding sponsors to manufacturing to design,” Wiebush said. “The skills and experiences I've gained will greatly increase my chances for finding a job; pretty much everyone that has been heavily involving in the team has a job lined up for them before they even graduate.”

Western’s Baja SAE team members are Garrett Wiebusch, Derek Seabrook (Battle Ground), Sam Dale (Everett), Patrick McLean (Whidbey Island), Blaine Peterson (Kent), Chris Holland (Bellingham), Sarah Carroll (Snohomish) and Derek Stout (Federal Way).

For more information on the competition, contact Garrett Weibush at wieb6@msn.com.