Photo of the BAJA SAE team at Case Western Reserve University.
Photo of the BAJA SAE team at Case Western Reserve University.

Baja SAE team breaks university records, brings home first place

Hard work, determination, a rigorous mindset, attention to detail and group effort. Those are just a few of the qualities it took for the Case Western Reserve University Baja Society of Automative Engineers (SAE) team to bring home first place at the most recent Baja SAE Ohio competition—shattering university records. The Baja SAE team engineers off-road vehicles to compete against other universities. 

“It means everything,” Liam Flanagan, finance and logistics lead, said about the victory. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that me and many other critical members of this team have spent tens of thousands of hours collectively designing, manufacturing and validating this car.”

From 12-hour days during spring break to late nights running simulations on the fourth floor of Sears think[box], the team didn’t leave anything up to chance—a mentality instilled in them by last year’s team captain, Bryan Levine, who cultivated a “rigorous mindset” meaning more thorough analysis of all components, more meticulous vehicle assembly and a more extreme testing process.

“I made sure everyone understood that the idea of ‘it probably won’t break’ isn’t good enough,” Levine, fifth-year mechanical engineering student, said.

To achieve this, Levine made sure no one was working in a vacuum. By fostering collaboration, he was able to better monitor quality control. When a fresh set of eyes looked at another group’s work, it encouraged new perspectives and helped uncover mistakes in the design of the vehicle.

In June, the team’s leadership transitioned, making Samantha Hepp the new team captain just months before the last competition of 2023. So while Levine and last year’s executive team oversaw the construction of the car that won big, Hepp and the new leaders were responsible for managing the event—their first ever.

Read the full story to learn more about the competition.