Tech's Car #27 in action at MiniBaja West (The Official Story. Also see the team's account.)


SOCORRO, N.M., April 30, 2002 -- An all-terrain-vehicle entry submitted by an engineering design team of New Mexico Tech seniors bested more than 90 other off-road racers and finished fourth overall at the annual Mini Baja West competition, which was held this past week at and near the campus of Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

Teams from as far away as Mexico, Canada, and Beirut, Lebanon competed in the three-day event in both static and dynamic events, including individual competitions in design, cost, safety, sales presentation, hill climb, maneuverability, and acceleration, as well as a grueling four-hour endurance race over a rugged, rain-soaked obstacle course.

New Mexico Tech fielded two entries--"Car 27" and "Car 28"-- at Mini Baja West, with Car 27 finishing third in acceleration, second in the endurance race, and fourth overall.

Tech's MiniBaja Team

(Front row (l-r): Keagan Rowley, Glorianna Grado, Stefanie Montgomery, Belinda Owen, Hollis Dinwiddie, and Orlando Chaparro (kneeling). Back row (l-r): Paul Carpenter, Josiah Garfield, Peter Nivala, Matt Edwards, Jason Kemp, Ryan Borden, Chris Durand, and Tom West.)

"We should rightly be proud of these young people and their ability to compete successfully at the highest level against schools that have much greater funding and infrastructure resources," said New Mexico Tech mechanical engineering professor David P. Johnson, the Tech Mini Baja team's faculty advisor.

"New Mexico Tech beat teams from Rochester Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly, the University of Illinois, and many others," he said.

"I think competing in Mini Baja has given those students involved an experience they will long remember and cherish as a highlight of their education experience at New Mexico Tech," Johnson added.

Sponsored annually by SAE International, Mini Baja challenges university students to design a four-wheel, single seat, off-road vehicle that is capable of negotiating rough terrain with damage to the vehicle . . . or driver.

Under the competition's rules, entries must have been built by participating teams for less than $2,500 in a hypothetical
production run.

Tech's MiniBaja Team

Front row (l-r): Josiah Garfiels, Peter Nivala, Hollis Dinwiddie, Glorianna Grado, Stefanie Montgomery, Belinda Owen. Back row (l-r): Paul Carpenter, Tom West, Jason Kemp, Chris Durand, Matt Edwards, Orlando Chaparro, faculty advisor David Johnson, Keagan Rowley, Steve Daum of SAE, and Ryan Borden.

With the exception of standard 10-horsepower lawn mower engine that is donated by Briggs & Stratton Corporation to all competing teams, team members are required to solicit corporate sponsorship for their projects in the way of cash or parts.

By designing and building a race-ready vehicle, Mini Baja competitors garner real-world experiences in project management, teamwork, communication, engineering design, and manufacturing.

New Mexico Tech's fourth-place finish--the highest the university has ever finished in Mini Baja West--also marks the third time New Mexico Tech engineering students have competed in the international contest.