Who are we?
The Baja competition, organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), challenges students with building a car capable of surviving the grueling tests of rough terrain: rocks, ditches, mud, creeks, loose dirt and gravel, drops, snow, and jumps. Schools from around the world compete, allowing students to come together as individuals, teams, and engineers to gain invaluable hands-on experience, learning from both teammates and other schools.
Our mission is to enrich the Northwestern experience through the production of a competitive off-road racing vehicle by inspiring creative automotive design, forging marketable leadership and technical skills, passing knowledge from senior to new members, and building a close-knit engineering community.
Northwestern University Baja, founded in 1988, is the oldest vehicle team on campus, and we’ve built some of our best cars in recent years. Last school year, we attended two competitions—one in Michigan and one in Kentucky, where we raced our three most recent cars, Bongo, Dino, and Tina. We also had one of our most successful recruiting years, welcoming near 20 new freshmen to the team.
This year we made some drastic changes to the 2021 car, ranging from a complete powertrain assembly redesign, to various frame modifications. Our goal in making these modifications is to make a stronger car that can withstand the obstacles in a racecourse, but is also fast enough to win. The best way to achieve this goal is to redesign components and test their failure methods. Another thing we do is train new members, and to do this we need lots of materials, as well as the materials needed to build our car. Our training program consists of teaching new members how to apply all the theoretical knowledge learned in the class to the real world. We teach design, manufacturing, and assembly. To do this, we need plenty of stock.
How you can help:
Like any group, we need money to run. We have an enormous project in front of us, and we need support throughout all stages. In addition to building a car, the team is also tackling the challenging logistics of improving our workspace on campus, of growing and educating our team, and of making our way to the racetrack with everything we need to be a legitimate competitor. For example, the raw aluminum used in each gearbox iteration costs $450. When you must buy at least three times that to account for modifications or manufacturing errors, this amounts to almost $1,500. But the gearbox is not the only part we need raw materials for. Multiply this total by about 20 to account for the other parts in our car and we’ve funded our project. In the past, our success as a team and individually has been hindered by a tight budget. We’re hoping you can help.
We hope to raise more than $8,000 through your generous support. This will cover the raw materials needed for the car frame ($4,800) and various suspension components, including shocks and hubs ($3,200). In addition to these costs, we also need to fund the raw materials for our gearbox, carbon-fiber seat, engine, and plenty of smaller bills including bolt orders, welding supplies, and all the safety equipment. Any additional funding past our goal will go towards additional materials for our car as well as materials needed to train new members. The motorcats sincerely appreciate anything you can contribute.
Let’s build a car!