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Mechanical Engineering

What is the Sasol Mini Baja competition?

The Mini Baja is an engineering design competition that allows engineering students to compete in a challenging project that involves various planning and manufacturing tasks used in industry today, for instance, when a new product is introduced to the industrial/commercial market.

Participating students have to design and build a prototype – namely a single-seater, four-wheeled, off-road recreational vehicle, to meet given design specifications. These cars, powered by a 7,5kW engine must be safe, easy to transport and service and able to negotiate tough terrain. The design of the actual vehicle is open to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the students.

The students must function as a team to design, build, test, promote and compete with a vehicle within the limits of the rules, also to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.

Brief history on competition

The competition originated at the University of South Carolina in the United States in 1976. Locally the SASOL Mini Baja Competition was initiated in 1996 and is currently administrated by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The competition, which is open to all tertiary level institutions, has run successfully for ten consecutive years.

Benefits for engineering students

Design, development and building of the cars are done by students under the guidance of academic staff and engineers in the Automotive Components Technology Station at the Summerstrand Campus (North). This project adds a great deal of ‘real-life engineering’ value to the students involved, an experience that will benefit them when they step out into industry one day.

The competition stimulates real world challenges of engineering design projects for students. They are operating on a strict budget, within a real world manufacturing environment and an extremely tight timeframe.

Each year Engineering students of the Faculty of Engineering can volunteer to become part of the project. This project requires both commitment and innovative thinking from each student involved.

These students commit themselves for a period of nine months from start to completion of the project. It takes dedication and determination to be able to succeed due to the fact that they still have to attend their respective classes each day at the university - in other words this project is strictly an extra mural project in addition to their classes.

Students that take part in this initiative may also apply for credit towards in-service training.

Baja Bug car in action  Baja Bug team