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Cardinal Racing set to compete nationally

A team of 16 senior LU mechanical engineering students will put the culmination of a year’s work designing and creating a mini dune buggy to the test in the SAE Baja Design Series West competition May 19-22 in Gorman, California.

2016 LU mini bajaSAE Baja, an intercollegiate design competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers, aims to test students’ ability to create small off-road vehicles able to withstand a range of dynamic events and a four-hour endurance race. Teams are judged through design evaluations, written reports, and presentations detailing their engineering process.

LU’s team, dubbed Cardinal Racing 2016, have worked since August 2015 to design, fabricate, test, and drive their buggy. Led by team captain Thomas Michel of Lunberton and build captain Dave Adams of Springfield, Va., the team is comprised of Davis Tsan of Orange, Jonny Pierce of Lake Jackson, Garrett Raines of Nederland, Conor Culpepper of Houston, Brandon Midkiff of Evadale, Brandon Wilkerson of Houston, Joey Nguyen of Beaumont, Ethan Baker of Baytown, Reed Richardson of Beamont, Riley McMillon of Lumberton, Tommy Yawn of Beaumont, Jordan Blanchard of China, Lindsey Paige of League City and Edgar Roque of Groves.

The team was challenged to create a vehicle that will carry one driver through a variety of static and dynamic events such as a hill climb, an acceleration test, a cost report, and a four-hour endurance race to push vehicles to their limits. Fewer than 25 percent of vehicles last the full four hours, according to the team.

There are three annual SAE Baja competitions in the U.S. that, on average, attract more than 100 teams internationally. Cardinal Racing 2016 will compete with universities from across the globe.

“Our group of 16 is quite large but we all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses,” Michel said. “The culmination of this project really goes to show how the entire group has been able to use what they are best at and contribute to the completion of the vehicle.”

Michel says the group has also involved juniors and sophomores in the process who may be a part of future Cardinal Racing teams.

“We want to start a legacy of quality at Lamar so other teams at this competition will see that although Lamar is a smaller school, we’re a school that produces a competitive vehicle every year,” he said.