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Running Mocs perform well at MiniBaja race

The Running Mocs may have been rookies in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2006 MidWest MiniBaja competition held recently in Wisconsin, but they were mighty, finishing 19th overall of 149 teams entered.

Calling it “a great result for a first time team,” faculty advisor Dr. Rob Goulet accompanied the group to the race, as did Karl Fletcher, Project Manager. “There were nearly 4,000 people at the race,” Fletcher said. The top 25 teams are dead serious; it is the SuperBowl of mechanical engineering education.” UTC's team bested some major teams, including Georgia Tech, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Purdue.

With a field that included highly competitive international teams from Canada, Korea and France, the (SAE) 2006 MidWest MiniBaja, sponsored by SAE and Briggs & Stratton, was one of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students were tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will endure the severe punishment of rough terrain. Briggs & Stratton provided all entrants with a free motor.

The Running Mocs took the contents of nearly an entire machine shop to the event. The 5,000 pounds of tools included a welder, grinders, hand tools--everything but a milling machine and lathe, which, of course, they eventually needed. Fletcher said the teams from the University of Central Michigan, University of Arkansas, and the University of Florida graciously allowed the Running Mocs to use their equipment to correct two minor but critical elements of the car’s design.

“Many of the more experienced teams were really helpful, there was a lot of camaraderie,” Fletcher said.

Sponsors donated approximately $12,500 to get the car up and running, and Tom Moore of Truck and Trailers provided a trailer to tow the car and tools to the MiniBaja. Although it was damaged in the final event, there are plans to restore the vehicle and use it for demo testing and driver training.

Jeremy Goodman’s experience with four-wheelers and Fletcher’s 23 years experience with off-road dirt bike racing contributed to the success of the Running Mocs.

“Although the vehicles are not the same, the things that stop them from moving are the same,” Fletcher said.

Students are planning to move forward with another entry to the race next year, and Fletcher said alumni and sponsors have expressed interest in supporting the effort.

Corporate sponsors include UTC Engineering and Computer Science Department, ASME Chattanooga Chapter, Shaw, Miller Industries, Inc., Master Machine, Inc. Strauss Company, Truck N’ Trailer USA. Other supporters are Metro Boiler Tube Company, Fastenal, Powersports Unlimited, and Hudlow Axle Company.

The Running Mocs team includes Eric Shrader, Corry Johnson, Mark Gilbert, Jeremy Goodman, Chad Monroe, Kim Sissom, Brad Henley, John Horton, Graham Hines, Mike Tracey, Ben Taylor, Dustin Fraley, Michael Hickey, and Justin Littlell.

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June 23, 2006

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