Racing In The Mud: The Baja SAE Experience

As far as school clubs go, it doesn’t get much cooler than the Baja SAE off-road vehicle team. Earlier in the year we wrote about Cal Poly Pomona and the rugged BAJA SAE car they built for this year’s competition. We have since been in touch with Jessica Ghareebo, Cal Poly Pomona Baja SAE President, who was able to update us on what makes the 2013 vehicle tick.


The goal of this year’s project was to lower the car’s center of gravity and decrease total vehicle manufacturing time by 30%. To start, students created a vehicle model in SolidWorks and analyzed it for aerodynamics. After finalizing the design, CAD models were sent to local company ADM Works, who donated time on their massive CNC machine to cut out molds using Precision Board Plus donated by Coastal Enterprises.


After receiving the machined molds, they were primed and sanded to a smooth finish. Students then applied a mold release before creating negative molds using a fiberglass layup technique. Finally, carbon fiber was laid up onto the fiberglass to create the finished body panel part. All molds for the body panels were made using Precision Board Plus PBLT-6, while PBLT-40 was used to create the mold for the fuel catch.


According to Anthony Cerrato, Electrical and Composites Captain, “Working with Precision Board saved the team a lot of time. After receiving the molds back from ADM Works, the cuts were so clean that finishing time was reduced.” At the time of competition, the project goals of lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity and decreasing manufacturing time by 30% were successful.


The Baja SAE competition is quite popular among university/college students. Many, many teams compete in the strenuous competition that includes uphill races and rock crawls. Cal Poly Pomona managed to do quite well in both competitions, placing 11th overall out of 100 teams in the Baja SAE East competition, and 6th overall out of 87 teams in the Baja SAE West competition. Coastal Enterprises would like to congratulate all students involved and wish them luck again for next year!

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Precision Board HDU



Hybrid SAE Racing: Can Electricity & Combustion Work Together?

The University of Michigan Formula SAE team recently competed in the Formula Hybrid International Competition. Closely related to the Formula SAE competitions we have written about in the past, Formula Hybrid is widely regarded as the most challenging of the SAE CDS competitions. As a matter of fact, an unofficial Formula Hybrid slogan is: “Formula Hybrid – Everything else is just too easy!”

Michigan Hybrid SAE Car

The competition includes acceleration, autocross and endurance events. Student teams design and construct a Formula Hybrid car powered by electricity and combustion, and are responsible for building all aspects of the car from high power electronics to mechanical systems.

One of the most impressive features onboard the University of Michigan car is a system known as the dSPACE MicroAutoBox II, which is an electronic brain designed to regulate the rpm’s of the two electric motors onboard. The electric motors power individual front wheels, which coupled with a 250cc combustion engine, enable the car to achieve superior acceleration. This feature earned U of M students the Chrysler Innovation Award, which came with a prize of $1,000.

Hybrid SAE Car

Formula Hybrid Co-Captain Kara Stoltze was kind of enough to put me in touch with A.J Jayasinghe, Aerodynamics Division co-lead, about just how the students designed this car. Body design was created using Solidworks, and the aerodynamics were analyzed using X-Flow, which is a software program by Next Limit Technologies.


After the car was designed and the students were sure they could make a mold based off the design, they used a CNC machine to create the molds using a combination of Precision Board Plus PBLT-10, PBLT-15, PBLT-20 and PBLT-30, donated by Coastal Enterprises. The molds were then coated with Duratec and allowed to cure before using them as plugs for the aerodynamic body and other interior components. According to Miles Justice, also Aerodynamics Division co-lead, the Precision Board Plus worked great because of how fast it machined and how easy it was to laminate together.

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Unfortunately on race day, the discovery of a fuel tank leak and a short in the cooling system during a pre-race technical inspection forced emergency repairs on the students before they could enter the competition. This caused them to miss the first two dynamic events with significant delays ultimately affecting their overall score. Continuing on and fighting hard, they still managed to take 4th place overall out of 12 competing schools.

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According to Kara, “The biggest challenge with Formula Hybrid is, by far, integrating the two powertrains to have a succesful hybrid. Getting both powertrains to work is one thing; getting them to work together is a whole different ballgame.” Coastal Enterprises would like to congratulate the entire University of Michigan Hybrid SAE team and wish them luck on next year’s car!

Hybrid SAE Car





2013 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge Update!

With the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge West competition coming up mid-April, last year’s champions at the Missouri University of Science and Technology are hard at work building this year’s HPV.

Fortunately for us, keeping in touch with Lead Fairing Engineer Jon Sanders means we have early access to pictures of the 2013 HPV coming together. You may remember Jon from last years blog: How Fast Can A Human Powered Vehicle Go?.

According to Jon, because of an improved SolidWorks design of the body, the 2013 “Colossus” HPV will be much more aerodynamic than last year’s “Kronos.” SolidWorks 3D CAD and Analysis software allowed the team to design the HPV and analyze airflow before the physical model was built.

This year, the mold was built using Precision Board Plus PBLT-10 and was CNC machined by .


After they received the machined Precision Board mold, the team members coated it with 5 coats of a Minwax fast-drying polyester sealer. A Duratec high gloss sealer, followed by an Orange Tooling Gelcoat application finalized the molds. After the molds were ready, the fairings were layed-up using a wet layup and vacuum bag method. Once curing was complete, two picture-perfect Carbon Fiber body halves were ready to be seamed together prior to mounting onto the frame.

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Currently, there is much fine tuning being done before the April 12th unveiling of “Colossus” at the NASA Ames Research Center’s Moffett Field. Landing gear (which automatically deploys at the finish of each race), headlights, turn signals and more must be added before the HPV is complete. Check out the Missouri S & T’s Facebook page for more info and updates as the race date inches closer.

Also, be sure to check back here for our after-race update!

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