Rough terrain race is biggest challenge for student engineering competition

Rough terrain race is biggest challenge for student engineering competition

Credit: Félix Escalona / WikiMedia

Rough terrain race is biggest challenge for student engineering competition

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by ANGELA KOCHERGA

WFAA

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 1:29 PM

EL PASO -- Some of the best off-road vehicles built by engineering students from around the world are in West Texas for a race.

One hundred teams are ready to start their engines. The BAJA SAE competition gives students real experience designing and testing their vehicles. Their biggest test will be a four-hour race over rough terrain.

This year the University of Texas-El Paso is hosting the race. And El Paso’s rugged terrain will test these student-built vehicles.

One team from India hopes their vehicle will endure the four-hour race. Students from Mexico have even higher hopes.

"We’re expecting first place," one student said.

The competition challenges students to design and build safe off-road vehicles that withstand punishing conditions.

"It’s really difficult to get women to compete," University of Louisville student Alisha Bragg said. "They think it’s a guy sport. Really it’s everyone’s sport."

And everyone will be on the track. News 8 got a close look at the conditions. Rather than man-made -- this year it’s all natural terrain. A UTEP engineering student helped design the 1.3-mile course.

"We want to set the bar high and let them build something rugged," Adrian Lopez said.

The course took a lot of planning -- about a year. At least half of the vehicles are not expected to finish the race.

"After all these hours in class, it’s good to actually get a chance to put something together," West Point student TJ Rowe said.

The completion runs through the weekend and ends Sunday with the big four-hour race.

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