Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Baja Racing student organization placed third nationally in the sales presentation competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers International’s (SAE) Baja Arizona competition in fall 2022, hosted near Tucson.
The award is the highest earned to date in the sales presentation event. The presentation team including Morgan Ceh, third-year Mechanical Engineering major; Mia Flory, master’s of Technology student, B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology ‘22; and Brian Scott, second-year Mechanical Engineering Technology major helped bring home the honor for the student group.
“When you think of Baja, you certainly think of racing, but it’s more than that,” said Flory. “The sales presentation teaches you how to research budgets and how to theoretically market your vehicle to business professionals or buyers.
“I had been on the sales presentation team since my freshman year. You’re going up against the best of the best in this competition. To hear our name get called was so rewarding because all the hard work we put in just really paid off. The look on the team’s faces, the look on Rick Rickerson’s face, it was just amazing.” Rickerson serves as Laboratory Administrator for the College of Technology and is the competition mentor for the Baja team.
The trio finished behind Youngstown State and Case Western Reserve, but also finished ahead of other flagship institutions, such as Arizona, Michigan, Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), Wisconsin, UCLA, and Cornell. The season marked a milestone for Purdue Northwest Baja Racing, as the students qualified for the national competition behind top-20 finishes in the sales presentation at earlier competitions in Cookeville, Tennessee (hosted by Tennessee Tech University) and Rochester, New York (hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology).
PNW’s team also earned top-20 finishes at Arizona in the endurance and sled pull events.
Purdue Northwest Baja Racing provides students the opportunity to manufacture and fabricate an off-road vehicle. The vehicle competes in several dynamic events to test durability through obstacle-filled drives. Students are also responsible for building local community relationships to help with fundraising for travel and shipment costs and for sourcing parts and tools. The student organization functions under the auspices of PNW’s College of Technology.
“When I finished my undergrad, looking back I saw I learned so much from Baja that I don’t think I would’ve otherwise known,” said Flory. “You learn how to apply concepts to a real situation and how to cooperate with a team. It is so rewarding to see what you design transform into a real product. To see it perform and do well is the best feeling ever.
“You also make connections throughout the country, whether that’s networking with big companies or helping out other teams. It’s so cool to be able to travel the country with your friends to race a car and I will have these memories forever.”