Mud-slinging in Indore with BAJA SAE

Wiping the layer of fine Pithampur dust that had settled on my wristwatch, I noticed the time. 2:30pm it was. Earthen particles swirled in the air, teams stationed at different points cheered randomly as I tried to make sense of what exactly was happening at the end of the BAJA SAE India 2014 endurance race.

For those of you not very familiar with BAJA, allow me to explain. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) organises an annual event in the USA, Africa, South America and Asia, where engineers in the making get a chance to apply theoretical knowledge in a real-life activity. For us lot, college assignments were a lot simpler (Ctrl + C > Ctrl + V, job done), but here, these undergraduate students put together all of their technical know-how to create an all-terrain vehicle that can endure the merciless off-road conditions, and yet, not cost a bomb to create. The only restrictions they face are in terms of dimensions (length and width), and the engine, which is a 305cc, single-cylinder petrol motor supplied by Briggs & Stratton. It only makes around 10bhp and 20Nm of torque, but these buggies don't weigh a lot, so they go round the dirt track pretty swiftly.

Apart from that (and a few safety regulations), the students are given free rein. They can play with the choice of transmission, employ different fabrication techniques, find ways to lose weight, that sort of stuff.