Penn College Baja Team Among World’s Best

Penn College Baja Team Among World’s Best

August 19, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


(Johnathan Capps) The first couple laps, you’re
just trying to get a feel for everything, find your position. And after that, you just see how far you can
push it without breaking it for four hours. (Narrator) Pennsylvania College of Technology
students pushed their car farther and faster than just a handful of teams during the marquee
event of Baja SAE in Pittsburg, Kansas. Penn College overcame scores of schools and
muddy conditions to finish fifth out of 107 teams in the renowned competition’s four-hour
endurance race. (John Upcraft) For a brand new car with a
brand new drivetrain, which is a new gearbox and new clutch, and a new driver and nothing
broke, I’m quite pleased with how things ended up. (Logan Goodhart) We came in here knowing we
had a fast car but also an unproven car. I’m kind of speechless because it couldn’t
have gone any better. (Narrator) The students dedicated countless
hours outside of class to design and manufacture the off-road vehicle. They made 85 percent of the car’s parts. (John Upcraft) In the fall, we were in every
Sunday and then in the spring we had work days every Friday and every Sunday and then
the last month we were in Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Logan Goodhart) It’s really just that effort. It’s all the late nights. The times we hate being in the shop but we
know we have to be there. Trying to make as informed decisions as we
can. (Johnathan Capps) They spent hours and hours
of their free time and their creative knowledge to come up with a car that was competitive
with the top 10 in the world, which is absolutely incredible. (Narrator) Of the 100-plus teams representing
top colleges and universities throughout the world, 13 didn’t complete a single lap of
the rugged track. Thirty-three cars recorded fewer than 10 laps. Penn College’s 114 car completed 39 laps of
the obstacle-filled course, made more challenging by the mud resulting from two inches of rain
that washed out most of the previous day’s events. (Johnathan Capps) It was more of a visual
challenge because all the mud would flash up on your goggles and it would get caked
on your helmet. It was just a matter of tearing off the little
tear-offs that we had on the goggles, cleaning off my helmet as we went through the race. (Narrator) At the race’s halfway mark, Penn
College’s 335-pound car was running in the middle of the pack, about 30 spots behind
eventual winner, the University of Michigan. As the course consumed other cars, the Penn
College entry dominated the final two hours, recording a lap time of 4:55, just 10 seconds
off the fastest one of the race. (John Upcraft) Once things start to thin out,
then you need to start turning laps and pushing the car. (Logan Goodhart) And the later we got into
the race, the car just kept taking it and kept taking it and got faster and faster. We really knew that we had finally done something
big here. (Narrator) The students received more than
bragging rights with their fifth-place finish. The Baja SAE experience enhances their resumes. (John Upcraft) There are employers that specifically
ask for Baja students. All the problem-solving, the critical thinking,
the making decisions off the cuff, that’s the reason that these employers are looking
for Baja specific students. (Narrator) More Baja competitions are in the
future for the Penn College team. But for now, the students are savoring their
stellar showing in Kansas. (Logan Goodhart) When it crossed the finished
line, it’s an unbelievable feeling. (Johnathan Capps) It was just a big sigh of
relief that the car held together and that I was done and I could get out and stand up! Being in the seat for four hours takes it
toll on you. But I wouldn’t do it for anything else. It was an awesome experience. (John Upcraft) The biggest thing is I’m happy
for these students. All this hard work they did, paid off. (Narrator) For PCToday, I’m Tom Speicher.