The COEP BAJA 2009 story

COEP BAJA 2009 car

The second edition of the BAJA SAEINDIA took place on 30th Jan to 1st February 2009. The event organizers were: the Automotive Research Association of India, ARAI, Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE INDIA and National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure project, NATRIP. The event was held at the NATRIP Testing Tracks, Pithampur, near Indore, Madhya Pradesh. JK tyres were the main sponsors for the event.

The BAJA (pronounced as BAHA) challenge is to build, design, analyze, fabricate and race in a single seater, four wheeled, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). The event was open to students from Engineering colleges all over India. The vehicles are tested in static events – Design Report, Design Presentation Evaluation, Costing and Marketing; in dynamic events – Acceleration, Maneuverability, Hill Climb and a 2-hour endurance race. Special awards are reserved for Green Vehicle and Innovations in Design.

This year 58 teams from all over the country were selected for the final event. TEAM NEMESIS from the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) was one of them. The COEP BAJA team was the overall champions in 2007. This year, a younger, fresher team took up the challenge. The faculty advisor, Dr. A. A. Latey along with the senior team members, selected the new team for the competition in 2009. Amit Tyagi, a final year student of the Mechanical Engineering department, was chosen as the captain. The team consisted of 19 members – 18 from Mechanical 1 from Production. Out of these 19, 12 were from the final year, 6 were from the third year, and one was from the second year.

The team started in early April by preparing for the first interview by the organizers. For the interview, questions based on basic automobile engineering as well as on the rules of the competition. The team successfully cleared the interview and was selected for the final competition. The next task was to divide the team into working groups. This was done as per the major systems in the vehicle – the roll cage, steering, suspension, transmission, exhaust, electrical and manufacturing. The team began by studying, researching, and sharing their knowledge with the teammates through regular presentations. Each one proposed a suitable system as per requirements and application and the design was integrated and final design prepared. A preliminary design report and a final report were submitted to the organizers.

After careful analysis and evaluation of the design, the manufacturing work began. The students themselves manufactured the entire vehicle. A separate laboratory with welding and grinding equipment was set up in the Mechanical Drawing Hall building with support from the Director, Dr. A. D. Sahasrabudhe and the Mechanical Department HOD, Dr. G. V. Parishwad. The Production Department workshop also provided help and support during the initial phases. The team was also guided and supported by some of the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department. The vehicle fabrication took almost 3 full months.

The finances of the team were supported by donations from two alumni as well as the COEP’s Alumni Association. About half the total expenses were borne by the students themselves.

Lombardini sponsored the Engine for all teams. The gearbox was sponsored by Mahindra and Mahindra.. The steering gearbox was imported and the rest of the steering designed and manufactured. Suspension was designed and fabricated by the students themselves. The uprights were adapted from standard automotive systems. Special all terrain wheels were used. A chain drive was used as auxillary transmission.

The team cleared all the local technical inspections and made its way to Pithampur. The first two days before the actual event began were reserved for testing. After clearing the final technical inspection and successfully completing the brake test in the first attempt itself, the team got an opportunity to drive the vehicle for a few laps over the track. The vehicle was performing well. On the first day of the event, the design evaluation was carried out. The team had the second best design report that they had submitted in the preceding months. The design of the team impressed many, as did the answers of the representatives. The team was evaluated on – structure and workmanship, innovation and originality, feasibility for mass production, the design of roll cage, steering, suspension, transmission and other subsystems and also on driver comfort and serviceability. The judges grilled the students for about an hour. The interaction was quite good with some judges even driving the car to actually see the results.

On the two days of dynamic events, the team had unexpected transmission problems. The chain started snapping violently and would come out if clutching was done improperly. As a result, the team under-performed in the acceleration event. The vehicle was a bit on the heavier side. This slightly hampered its time on the hill climb. The team was exceptionally quick in maneuverability but unfortunately hit one of the cones in the track and got penalized. Still, the team was above average in the events and managed to secure 19th/ 58 positions on the grid. The team carried out emergency repairs and tried to smoothen the chain snapping by installing additional idlers to the already existing ones.

In the final endurance race, the team started really well, moving into the top ten positions in the first half lap itself. However, the chain gave way and the team was left behind. Though the chain felt only a few times in the race, the transmission shaft on the left started giving way! The entire race then turned into a battle of the team with the transmission. The track repair team would rush anywhere the car would break down and fix the problem and get the car running. Then came another shock. On an entry to a ditch, the driver steered the car too much to the left and car overturned. The students pushed and heaved the car out and got it running. The roll cage held well and no one was injured. All this cost the team vital time. However, the team was one of the 12 odd teams who actually completed the entire race and took the chequered flag. It was an accomplishment in itself.

Later, at the prize distribution ceremony, the team received the award for the runner up for “BEST ENGINEERING DESIGN”. It lifted the team and was well deserved given the effort that they had put in.

In another parallel competition titled Virtual BAJA, another team from COEP took the third prize. The problem statement was to design and analyze a vehicle along with preparing a production plan for a fictitious firm for mass producing 4000 units a year. The Virtual BAJA team got due recognition for their efforts over the past 8 months.

BAJA was a learning curve for the COEP team. It provided vital hands on experience of automobile system design, development and manufacturing. The team members also developed their own expertise on the welding and grinding machine. Along with the technical know how the team also learnt about the art of management and planning, financial management, public relations, material purchasing and vendor sourcing. Team spirit was highlighted. It was once in a lifetime experience for the team.

A new team will be selected for the Asia-level competition in 2010. The team will comprise of third year members in 2009 team as well as some new faces. The COEP team will be looking to bring home many more laurels and glory to the college in BAJA ASIA 2010 competition.


The COEP car video!


1 Comment »

  1. […] February 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm · Filed under Mechanical Engg ·Tagged baja, baja 2009 car, baja sae india, coep baja, coep baja 2009, coep baja 2009 story, coep car for baja 2009, coep in baja sae india 2009, coep vehicle for BAJA 2009, press release for coep baja 2009 As I blogged earlier I was part of the COEP team for BAJA SAE INDIA 2009. […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: