A mechanically-inclined team of students from Missouri University of Science and Technology is about to find out if its dune buggy can withstand a four-hour race through mud bogs, water hazards and boulders.
The Missouri S&T team is competing in an annual competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers April 16-19 in Auburn, Ala. The vehicles will be judged on endurance, traction, acceleration, maneuverability, cost and maintenance.
“The track is very intense and few cars prove worthy of finishing,” says Casey Boyer, president of Missouri S&T’s Baja Team.
This was the case for Missouri S&T during the 2008 competition. The vehicle suffered two drive train failures, causing the team to leave the competition early. This year, the team has simplified the drive train in hopes of reducing the risk of failure.
Students from various universities design and build their own vehicles each year. “One thing that sets us apart from years past is that we started building much sooner,” says Boyer, a junior in mechanical engineering.
This year, the S&T students finished their vehicle two weeks prior to competition, allowing adequate time for testing.
The Missouri S&T team started the school year under difficult conditions. They had a large deficit and couldn’t spend money on parts for the dune buggy until the budget was recovered. Fortunately, the team was able to raise money from local businesses in Rolla, St. James and Cuba.
“We are thankful for and very proud of the strong local support,” says Boyer.