Since 2014, BCIT’s Formula Baja SAE team has been competing at various racing events across North America. In 2019 the team plans to compete against several U.S. and international teams at a Formula SAE event in Rochester New York. I sat down with some of the team members to discuss more about the team, the vehicle, and what normally happens in a typical race weekend.
LINK: Hey guys, thanks for talking with us, I’ll start by asking you: How did you get started in the BCIT Baja Formula SAE team?
Al Pachevskiy, Project Manager: “Well there was an introduction event on the first day when I started school, and they told us that there’s a Baja club and they have a car, and I was like this is exactly what I want to do! So I was pretty much in from day one.
Riley Waldbower, Crew Member: “I heard about it through school events and Reddit.”
Stirling Anderson, Crew Member: “I knew some people who were in the program already. If you go to the mechanical engineering Reddit there’s stuff about it all over there, and there’s a club day as well where I found out about it.”
LINK: For those who don’t know what Baja Formula SAE is, do you want to give us a brief description of what the club is all about?
Al: We build an off road vehicle, and we have limitations, there’s rule books, such as what we can do with the frame, the engine, and suspension. There’s still free space for people to design and do different things to their car, so there’s still a lot of variety that people come up with.
LINK: Now obviously you’re competing against other teams in the competition itself, what are some of the other schools that take part in the event?
Al: We compete against any school that enters the competition. Most of the schools are from the United States, as well as a bunch of schools from around the world, such as Mexico and India.
LINK: So this year the competition is in Rochester, New York, how are you guys getting the funding to travel there?
Stirling: We’ve got some sponsorship from the school itself, since it is one of the school’s clubs, and we also do some fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money.
Al: That is another thing that people don’t realize, it’s not just engineering students that are part of the team, there’s some marketing kids as well who come up with proposals for sponsors to help raise money as well.
LINK: On the race weekend itself what kind of events does the car have to compete in?
Al: Well there’s an endurance event that is four hours long, it takes place on a big specially made track, so it takes a while to complete it. We also have rock climbing and maneuverability events, as well as a presentation where you talk about your car and its design.
LINK: So you were all on the team last year for the event in Oregon, what were some of the problems that you faced?
Stirling: Well we didn’t get to finish the suspension, and we had to do some weird modifications to get the old suspension to work on the new car, which wasn’t ideal, it messed up all of our stats that we had.
Riley: Yeah, it was a really big struggle, we got the car done on the fifth day, and only got to do eight laps in the endurance event, but it was pretty cool to see it running. We ended up placing 85th out of 90 cars, but it was still cool to go down there.
LINK: How hard is it to balance a full course load with all of your duties with the Baja club?
Al: It definitely gets hard around exam time. We struggled to get everyone together to meet up, which is understandable with the importance of exams, but it’s starting to get better with exams ending.
Riley: I’m in the mechanical engineering program, and it’s sometimes hard to balance a full course load and all the Baja stuff, but it’s a really good experience and a great thing to be a part of.
Stirling: I have to agree with the other guys, but I found that it helped me out on my mid-term, there was a question about a truss that was pretty much the same thing as the suspension work I did on the car.
LINK: What are your goals entering the 2019 event at Rochester?
Stirling: Hopefully we’ll have a fully finished car this time, maybe something that we’ve actually tried before so that we know what’s going to let us down and we can fix it before it does break.
LINK: One last question, what are some of the benefits of being a part of this club?
Al: It’s really fun, there’s good comradery, and you get to make something that’s cool and see it work.
Riley: It’s definitely worth all the time that you put in, I’ve definitely had a good experience with it. Getting to know the guys and seeing how everything works has been neat.
Stirling: There’s a lot of hands on experience that you get, a lot of the simulations that we do seem like they come right out of the courses, so you actually get to apply what you’ve learned on the car.
LINK: Thanks for your time guys, and good luck with the competition!
The BCIT Baja Formula SAE team is welcoming new members. To find out more about the club and Baja Formula SAE racing head to bcitracing.com, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Instagram (@bcit_racing). The team also runs several fun events throughout the year, as well as several fundraiser where you can meet the team and find out more information about the club. The team will travel to Rochester New York and compete against post-secondary institutions from around the world from June 6th to the 9th.