From human-powered vehicles to solar cars to Indy-style racing cars, the University of Missouri-Rolla is known for its student design teams. This year, a UMR team is working on a new project — a dune buggy.
The UMR Mini Baja Team will participate in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Baja Midwest competition May 24-27 in Elkhorn, Wis. The event is hosted by the University of Wisconsin.
The dune buggies won’t have to negotiate a lot of sand dunes, but the teams from colleges and universities in the Midwest will be judged on how well they complete an obstacle course, including jumps and a mud bog, and how much weight their vehicles can pull. Teams will also be judged in acceleration, maneuverability, endurance and design.
“The key is to do as well as possible in all events, balancing power and maneuverability,” says Tim Turner, one of UMR’s team leaders.
UMR’s off-road vehicle is powered by a 10-horsepower engine.
“It’s basically a big lawn mower engine,” Turner says. “And only one set of big tires can be used in the competition.”
The UMR team designed and built the frame. They also manufactured or assembled all of the parts. “Think of it as a go-kart on steroids,” says Robert Voss, another team leader.
Up to ten UMR team members will serve as drivers during various stages of the competition in Wisconsin.
While UMR students competed in some baja events in the 1980s, this is the first year that the Mini Baja Team has been a part of UMR’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center.
Randall Lewis, instructional laboratory coordinator in UMR’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, is the team’s advisor.