Penn College Baja Team Pumped for Kansas Competition

Published 05.11.2018

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During the past few years, the Pennsylvania College of Technology Baja SAE team has been among the world’s best. Now, the dedicated students want to be the best.

Penn College can obtain that lofty ranking when it competes against 99 other schools in the next Society of Automotive Engineers event, scheduled for May 17-20 in Pittsburg, Kansas.

“Our goal is to win the endurance race,” said Logan B. Goodhart, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Chambersburg, who serves as team captain. “Our car has a lot of potential. We just have to play things smart and have a little luck.”

Members of the Penn College Baja SAE team take a well-earned break during their April competition in Maryland. Standing from left are: Myron D. Milliken, Lewistown; Matthew J. Nyman, Lock Haven; Todd R. Mercer, Williamsport; Dylan A. Bianco, State College; Christopher M. Schweikert, Jamison; Mathias Decker, Farmington; Shujaa AlQahtani, Saudi Arabia; Trevor M. Clouser, Millmont; Daniel M. Gerard, Doylestown; Joshua J. Cover, Selinsgrove; adviser John G. Upcraft; and Jonathan R. Sutcliffe, Orangeville. Sitting on the car from left are: Logan B. Goodhart, Chambersburg; Johnathan T. Capps, North Wales; and Mark A. Turek, Red Lion. Sitting on the ground is alumnus Zach Mazur, who started the college’s Baja SAE team in 2005. Luck wasn’t on their side last month at Baja SAE Maryland. The Penn College students led the endurance race for a couple laps and remained in the top five until a competitor rear-ended their car. The accident cost them 20 minutes in the four-hour race. Penn College recovered to place seventh, the team’s seventh top 10 ranking in Baja SAE’s premier event since 2012.

“I’m very proud of what we did in Maryland,” Goodhart said. “We just had a few tough breaks. We ran with the best, and the car did amazing.”

Penn College topped such schools as Notre Dame, Bucknell, New York University, Northwestern, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Clemson.

In addition to the strong showing in the endurance race, Penn College finished fifth in the maneuverability event and 10th in acceleration.

“I was very impressed by the team’s effort in Maryland,” said John G. Upcraft, instructor of manufacturing and machining and the team’s adviser since its inception in 2005. “I think their finish there lit their fire to do even better in Kansas.”

Ten months of extensive planning and tireless work will culminate in Kansas. Baja SAE requires participants to build a single-seat, dune-buggy-like car. Teams must present comprehensive design and cost reports to industry judges before putting their car to the test in a series of dynamic events, culminating with the endurance race.

Last year in Kansas, Penn College placed fifth in the endurance event.

“Kansas is a good course for us as we have a durable car,” Goodhart said. “Kansas has rougher terrain and more obstacles than Maryland. That could work to our advantage. We build our cars to last.”

The Penn College entry is different than last year’s version. It sports a new chassis, a redesigned front suspension and different gear ratios with its continuously variable transmission. The car weighs 335 pounds.

“The students’ work has resulted in a more efficient car,” Upcraft said. “They have spent countless hours outside of class at night and on the weekends to produce the car. Their effort and dedication cannot be questioned.”

Such dedication pays off no matter the final standings.

“I can’t think of where I’d be without Baja SAE,” Goodhart said. “It’s led to internships and job opportunities. I’ve developed leadership and people skills. I’ll carry the experience with me the rest of my life.”

One of three graduating seniors on the team, Goodhart will begin his career as a manufacturing engineer at Ring Container Technologies in Hanover this summer.

“We have a really good group of freshmen who have stepped up,” Goodhart said. “I’m excited to see where they can take the team.”

For Upcraft, the future is now.

“It’s there for the taking,” he said. “The students have worked so hard. They deserve a top finish in Kansas. There is always uncertainty with the endurance race. That’s just the nature of racing. But I am certain they will be as prepared as possible for all contingencies and will do their best.”

In addition to Goodhart, members of the Penn College Baja SAE team include manufacturing engineering technology majors Jonathan R. Sutcliffe, of Orangeville; Travis J. Scholtz, of New Kensington; Christopher M. Schweikert, of Jamison; Darian P. Trego, of Mifflinburg; Trevor M. Clouser, of Millmont; Shujaa AlQahtani, of Saudi Arabia; Myron D. Milliken, of Lewistown; and John D. Kleinfelter, of Lebanon. Engineering design technology majors Matthew J. Nyman, of Lock Haven; Mark A. Turek, of Red Lion; and Dylan A. Bianco, of State College. Machine tool technology majors Mathias Decker, of Farmington, and Todd R. Mercer, of Williamsport. Other members and their majors are Joshua J. Cover, of Selinsgrove, automotive technology management; Johnathan T. Capps, of North Wales, applied technology studies; Michael Oldroyd-Costello, Jamison, welding and fabrication engineering technology; Ryan J. Korutz, of Breinigsville, mechatronics engineering technology; and Daniel M. Gerard, of Doylestown, automated manufacturing technology.

“I can’t adequately express the pride I have in these students,” said David R. Cotner, dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies. “From acquiring sponsors to building a top-notch car, the Baja team has truly distinguished itself. We all certainly want them to win in Kansas, but regardless of the result, the students are winners in my eyes.”

For information about majors offered by the School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development. Email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.