A ten-horsepower engine, a rulebook and a dirt road. That is all that is provided to Baja SAE teams across the country, with the task of building a fully functional racecar. This seems like an incredibly daunting task, yet NJIT’s Highlander Racing team has been competing for the past 2 years and the team has been growing like wildfire.
NJIT has had a Baja team that has been on and off since 1980. Over one particular GDS meal in 2015, Matthew Emmerson and Dave Jackiewicz decided to revamp the program from what little remained. Their startup team of 8 members would meet every weekend at Matthew’s home garage, putting together a car that placed NJIT in a competition for the first time since 2007.
Things are looking bright for this year’s team, with their own on-campus shop, internal support, and sponsorships from various companies. “We have made tremendous progress in just two short years to become a significant and reputable student organization” Dave says, “looking back at it today, [our] experience is what motivates us because the team essentially came from nothing.” Dave is also this year’s Team Captain, which consists of 8 sub-teams and a steady 50 members, as well as the Project Manager. He’s responsible for the successful completion and performance of this year’s vehicle.
The goal this year is to build a car that is “substantially lighter than the year before, by employing sound engineering practices that will not compromise strength and safety.” Among weight there are other concerns for this year’s car, including cost and durability. These are some of the factors that can affect scoring at the competition, and can make the difference between, say, 3rd and 15th place.
There are many things to consider in the process of building a unique car, but it’s nothing the engineers of NJIT’s Highlander Racing team can’t handle. Each member provides a different set of skills and perspectives, along with passion and dedication to achieve this year’s goal. By doing so, Dave hopes to “bring greater awareness to the nation about NJIT” and further NJIT’s legacy as innovators.
The team is currently in the design and development stage with plans to have the car built by April of 2017. They are registered for all 3 available competitions in California, Kansas, and Illinois and are expecting to be among the top competitors this year.