College horticulturists lend skills to Baja competition site

Published 04.30.2024

Photos by Tom Speicher, writer/video producer

Baja SAE
Baja SAE Competition
Faculty & Staff
Diesel Truck, Heavy Equipment & Power Generation
Automated Manufacturing & Machining

With Baja SAE Williamsport fast approaching, a dedicated crew from Penn College General Services has spent several hours working at the event’s location: the Heavy Construction Equipment Operations Site in Brady Township. 

Chad L. Karstetter, horticulturist/grounds & motor pool manager; Joel D. Steppe, assistant horticulturist/grounds & motor pool manager; Brooke M. Barton, horticulturist; and Alyssa R. McGraw, horticulturist, have cut down potentially dangerous limbs and dead trees to protect participants and spectators at the competition, scheduled for May 16-19. 

The college is expecting 108 teams – representing 34 states, Canada and Brazil – at the massive event that requires students to design, manufacture and build a single-seat, off-road car to survive several performance tests.

The marquee test is a four-hour endurance race over a rugged 1.1-mile course. Seth J. Welshans, diesel equipment technology faculty, and John G. Upcraft, instructor of manufacturing and machining and the faculty adviser for the Penn College Baja SAE team, are entering the final stages of refining the course, built in part by students from the Service Technicians & Operators’ Association.

Steppe prepares to cut down a branch that hovers above the endurance course.
Karstetter takes care of a dead tree along one of the site’s access roads.
Barton (at left) and Karstetter decide to cut this branch in half.
With the help of a bucket truck, McGraw snakes her way in amongst the trees to eliminate some branches.
The upper portion of the endurance course is taking shape.
Drivers will certainly know where to go!
Trees and brush once consumed this part of the course.
That’s going to be one heck of a banked turn the drivers will have to navigate.
Before crossing the bridges, the competitors will face a fairly steep drop.