MUD! That’s Mud, underlined with an exclamation point.
The mud might be one of the most enduring memories of the 2011 Baja SAE Kansas competition May 26-30. It was the kind of mud that would suck you ankle-deep and keep you there. Combined with a course that was designed to punish even the toughest vehicle, the mud helped make the endurance course one of the most challenging in BAJA SAE history.
A Canadian team took home the overall first-place trophy at Baja SAE Kansas, but the real winners of the competition – the first ever hosted by Pittsburg State – appeared to be the university, the community and the College of Technology faculty and staff who worked endless hours over the better part of a year to make the whole thing happen.
College of Technology Dean Bruce Dallman said he couldn’t be more proud of the people who made it all happen.
He singled out Trent Lindbloom and Bob Schroer, assistant professors in Automotive Technology, for special praise. Lindbloom and Schroer led the organization of the event and each spent long hours over many months preparing for the event.
Hosting an event of this size (nearly 100 teams from around the world and thousands of visitors to the community) would not have been possible without the support and hard work of a great many people in the College of Technology, across the PSU campus and in the community, Dallman said.
At some point or another, it seemed nearly every student and every department in the College of Technology was helping to make the event a success. Students in construction programs, for example, designed and built the course. Students in Graphics and Imaging Technologies, meanwhile, designed and printed t-shirts and programs. And, of course, another group of students designed and built PSU’s entry in the competition.
Another key to success was the way the community embraced the competition. Scores of corporate sponsors provided vital support and the Chamber of Commerce pitched in, even supplying numerous volunteers for the event.
Another group – broadcasting students from the Communication Department – helped set the bar high for other communities planning to host SAE Baja competitions in the future. The PSU students filmed and broadcast many hours of the competition over two days via live streaming on the Internet. More than 5,000 people from around the world logged on to watch portions of the competition and hear live commentary and analysis.
The only thing that didn’t quite go according to plan was the weather. Torrential rains in the days preceding the competition left the area, which months before had been farmland, a muddy mess. Although the mire made it a little more difficult for spectators, and certainly did challenge the cars, the student participants seemed unfazed, in part because lots of mud is a key component of any good SAE Baja course.
Sam Barill, who represented the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) at the event, called PSU’s first hosting of an SAE Baja competition “a total success.” Barill singled out the “enormous support from the local community,” the hundreds of volunteers and the tireless efforts of organizers Lindbloom and Schroer.
Is there another SAE Baja competition in PSU’s future? Organizers say it’s still too soon to tell, but the success of this year’s event left quite a few people thinking it might not be too long until the competition returns to Pittsburg. If it does, one thing is certain: rain or no rain, we will have mud.