PITTSBURG — More than 2,000 competitors from around the world will gather in Pittsburg this week for an engineering competition centered on student-designed vehicles.
Typically called Baja, the Kansas Baja SAE Competition will be conducted Thursday through Sunday mostly at the East Campus of Pittsburg State University. PSU students and staff have prepared for the arrival of 99 other teams from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, and from across the U.S.
“The students have been working for months to build a prototype vehicle for a fictitious company to put into the consumer market,” Trent Lindbloom, associate professor in automotive technology, said.
The proceedings will kick off with the Baja on Broadway car show from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday in downtown Pittsburg. Lindbloom said he expects about 50 percent of the vehicles to appear at the event.
Technical inspections, design judging, dynamic brake tests, and track practice will take place Friday. Events continue on Saturday with more dynamic brake testing, open dynamic events, and sled pull, acceleration, suspension, and maneuverability competitions.
An endurance event will be conducted 9:30 a.m., Thursday. This 1.7-mile motocross course will feature rough terrain and tight turns.
The event will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, with parking in the Kansas Technology Center. Busses will run continuously 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, Sunday.
“We’ll pick people up and take them right into our spectator area,” Lindbloom said. “They are also enclosed in the spectator viewing area so there’s no chance of anyone getting hurt.”
Although 2018 marks PSU’s fourth run at hosting Baja since 2011, the university has participated in the competition every year since about 1991. Lindbloom served as the lead captain for the PSU team that year, returned to help the team in 2000, and has been leading the team since 2003.
“It’s unique in Pittsburg because we get the community involved,” Lindbloom said. “When we go to these other events, the community doesn’t even know why we’re there, but when they come to Pittsburg, we blow it up.”
The professor said he is particularly excited about what this competition does for the students in the long run.
“They are learning time management skills, conflict resolution, problem solving on their feet, personal relationship skills — all these skills the industry is looking for,” he said. “We give them all the basics in our classes, but now they have to put that together and actually build a vehicle as a group because Pitt State’s motto is learning by doing.”
— Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.