Moving earth, making mulch mountains: Baja work in progress

Published 04.15.2024

Photos by Tom Speicher, writer/video producer

Heavy Equipment Operations
Diesel Truck, Heavy Equipment & Power Generation
Baja SAE
Baja SAE Competition
Just some of the 14,000 tons of shale being used to transform three dirt fields into “parking lots.”

Despite some rainy days, progress continues for Baja SAE Williamsport at Penn College’s Heavy Construction Equipment Operations Site. A combination of contractors and members of the Service Technicians & Operators’ Association have been busy at the Brady Township location, preparing it for the May 16-19 competition.

Students from Penn College’s Service Technicians & Operators’ Association, under the direction of Seth J. Welshans, diesel equipment technology faculty, have moved earth to construct jumps and build banked turns for the competition’s main event: the endurance race. They’ve also developed the site for the hill climb competition. As part of that effort, they installed an underground pipe to drain excess water from the adjacent shale pit, the area earmarked for the suspension and traction event. Previously, the students assisted Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., a Baja SAE Williamsport sponsor, with dispersing 14,000 tons of shale on three dirt fields that will serve as parking areas for teams and spectators. 

Metzler Forest Products, another Baja SAE Williamsport sponsor, has been at the Heavy Construction Equipment Operations Site for several days, clearing trees and brush for the 1.1-mile endurance course. Workers have ground logs and brush to make mountains of mulch to be distributed throughout the site. KW Enterprises LLC is installing silt socks filled with mulch – donated by Lycoming County Resource Management Services – to guard against soil erosion and prevent silt from collecting in nearby streams. KW Enterprises is donating its labor costs in support of the event.

One hundred collegiate teams, totaling about 1,000 students, are registered for Baja SAE Williamsport. Those teams have spent several months designing, manufacturing and building a single-seat, off-road vehicle to survive several performance tests. Next month will mark the first time Penn College has hosted the renowned international competition. 

Metzler Forest Products clears the way for the 1.1-mile endurance course by moving logs and brush into piles like…
this “collection.”
The company employs a whole tree grinder to transform the logs and brush into mulch.
It’s raining mulch!
KW Enterprises fills the first of many silt socks to be placed throughout the site.
The silt socks are filled with mulch donated by Lycoming County Resource Management Services.
That is one stuffed silt sock!
Members of Penn College’s Service Technicians & Operators’ Association build one of many jumps that will challenge teams during the endurance race.
The students begin covering a pipe they installed at the base of the hill climb.
The pipe will drain excess water from the adjacent shale pit.