Four dual-enrolled St. Clair County Community College students took on Baja teams from around the world this past spring and put on an impressive performance.
Seth Ferguson, Cecilia Linck, Luke Martino and Wade Saldana made up the SC4 team which finished 52nd out of more than 120 in the Baja SAE competition in Pittsburg, Kansas, topping dozens of four-year schools, most of them with much larger teams.
The University of Michigan won the event, followed by the University of Wisconsin. Teams finishing behind SC4 included Clemson, the University of Virginia, Lake Superior State, Kettering University and many other four-year or engineering-centric schools.
The students attended the Sanilac Career Center, and were enrolled in the mechatronics program at SC4, taking welding and mechatronics classes this past year. They built a Baja car from the ground up and took it to Kansas where it was put through four days of inspections and driving tests.
“They worked every morning during the school year on the car,” said SC4 Professor of Mechatronics and Alternative Energy Eric Heinemann, who accompanied the students on the trip. “It started as drawings, then they had to get materials and fabricate nearly the whole car.”
Heinemann worked closely with the student’s instructors at the Sanilac Career Center, Dave Crompton and Jason Justice. Justice graduated from SC4 with a degree in mechatronics.
While in Kansas, the team went through three tests prior to the competition even starting, as officials checked the engine, gave the car a full inspection, and oversaw a brakes test.
The competition itself featured eight events: a sales presentation, cost event, design event, acceleration, maneuverability, sled pull, suspension and endurance.
The team fared best in the sled pull (third) and suspension (11th) events. It also had top 50 finishes in cost (38th), acceleration (43rd) and maneuverability (40th).
“Most teams couldn’t even pull the sled, because their cars were set up for speed,” Heinemann said. “We were set up more for torque.”
The team’s lowest finish came in the endurance event, but it may have also included its most impressive feat. Five laps in, the “A” arm on the front driver’s side tire snapped. Back in the pit area, the group fabricated a brand new “A” arm out of pipe to get the car ready to race again.
“All the instructors were really proud of them for doing that,” Heinemann said.