OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — More than 1,000 aspiring engineers from around 80 colleges put their skills to the ultimate test at the Baja SAE competition in Oshkosh this weekend.
Teams were provided with an engine and then tasked with building a custom car around it, capable of passing rigorous inspections and withstanding a four-hour endurance test on the grounds of Sunnyview Expo Center.
Among the entrants was Dustin Pick and his team from UW Platteville. Pick said the hands-on experience building the car and fixing any problems that arose was invaluable in preparing his team for real-world challenges.
“It’s a great experience," he said, "as an engineer, you’re not going to find a better experience than this. We’re constantly having to redesign things, fix things, figure out what happened…we’re doing it constantly with this car.”
Oshkosh Corp. has been a sponsor of Baja SAE for many years, but Chief Technology and Strategic Sourcing Officer Jay Iyengar explained this was the first time the event was held in Oshkosh.
She said she was happy to see so many talented and dedicated engineers in her own backyard and "just love[d] watching these kids work long hours trying to put things together."
She thinks the competition is a great way to prepare tomorrow's engineers for the problems of the future.
“The technology we develop isn’t just for the sake of developing technology we actually work on solving real world customer problems," she said, "whether it’s safety or productivity or even providing them more easy to operate vehicles," she continued.
Iyengar believes the work is especially important now, as "STEM is probably the most important thing you can do.”
The event is set to conclude on Sunday.