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Mini-Baja Team Conquers West

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Mini-Baja Team stunned an array of top level international competitiors in the Western Mini-Baja Competition in Oregon sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers recently.

The Team took sixth place in the overall competition and placed in the top 10 for overall design. This is the highest placement in team history for UL Lafayette.

In the dynamic events which include a rock crawl, hill climb and maneuverabillty tests, the team placed fifth. UL Lafayette's entry was one of only three entries which completed the rock crawl. The competition included 84 teams.

“ The impact on the university's and the community's reputation is huge,” said William Emblom, team advisor and Mechanical Engineering instructor. “My role was to facilitate and to ask questions that would lead the team to do an outstanding job. They were the ones who spent late nights and weekends for an entire year to make this happen.”

Emblom said a scoring error may lead to even higher standings for the team. He expects the team to move to up in the rock crawl and overall placement.

Mini Baja rock crawlOther achievements by the team include being in the top 10 for cars completing the most laps in a 4-hour endurance race at the Washougal MX Park - famous in the motor cross sports circuit. The course was specially modified to be more difficult for this event.

The foreign teams competing in the competition included one from India, two from Korea, two from Canada, and 20 from Mexico. U.S. competitors included Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois and UCLA.

UL Lafayette placed higher in the standings that all of these teams.

Funds for the Mini-Baja Team are raised by donations from the UL Lafayette College of Engineering, Lafayette businesses and individuals in the area. The Lafayette Automobile Dealer Association was the largest contributor.

“ Without the support of organizations like the LADA, the team could not compete. We are grateful that LADA and all the other contributors help the students with their project,” said Emblom. “Also, the students could not have achieve the tremendous success without the support of the faculty and the rigorous education they received in courses such as Kinematics taught by Gongtao Wang, Manufacturing Processes taught by Suren Dwivedi, and Machine Design taught by Livonia Theriot.”

Team captain Daniel Trahan and Shop Foreman Ross Kerne are credited for putting together an excellent team and managing them both in the construction of the vehicle and during the competition.

Team members include Daniel Zachry of New Iberia, Matt Hengens of Gueydan, John Bihm of Rayne, Jake Thibodeaux of Carencro, Gabe Bulliard of Lafayette, Chris Gerace of Opelousas, Cole Melancon of Carencro, Charlie Chapman of New Iberia, Aaron Snay of New Iberia, Daniel Trahan of Scott and Ross Kerne of Lafayette.

Jeff Guidry and Robert Vanderlick, shop technicians, helped with advice and time in the shop.