Students Take a Path Less Traveled

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Some students at the Cummins College of Engineering for Women (CCEW) in India have found a new way to test their skills: off-road endurance racing.

Team Blitz is made up of students at the college in Pune that has long been supported by Cummins to help increase the number of women in engineering. The team designed and built an off-road vehicle and in 2013 became the first CCEW team to compete in the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) India competition.

“During my first year at CCEW, I came across an episode of the television program ‘Overdrive’ about the Baja event held in Pithampur,” said Team Captain Mrunal Sawant. “I had no prior knowledge about it, so I began researching and learned that the first requirement to participate was to create an SAE chapter at the college.”

Sawant worked with a classmate to create the SAE chapter and the off-road team soon followed. Team Blitz, which now consists of 25 women, spent a year studying and preparing for the event and then entered the 2013 competition.

Over about three months, they painstakingly built a car to withstand harsh conditions and meet the contest requirements that vehicles be safe, easily transported, easily maintained and have a speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour.

The Baja competition provides budding mechanical engineers the opportunity to showcase their potential as automobile designers. Just getting to the starting line is a major accomplishment. Of the 260 teams that applied to join the event, only 91 survived rigorous inspections and tests that lasted three days.

The vehicles that actually start the race are evaluated for acceleration, speed, climbing inclined roads and maneuverability in addition to endurance over rough terrain.

Forty of those 91 teams ran for the entire three-hour duration of the Baja’s Endurance Test. Team Blitz finished 13th and took second place in the Best Quality competition.

Cummins has been a co-sponsor of the Baja competition for the past five years and Company officials say Team Blitz’s performance was truly impressive. The Baja competition has been getting stronger every year.

“It is remarkable to see the participating teams improve over the years and we are excited to take this event to an international level soon,” said Lalitkumar Suryavanshi, of Cummins Turbo Technologies and Joint Convener for SAE Baja 2013.

Paul Sowerby, Chief Technical Officer for the Cummins Area Business Organization in India, was one of the Guests of Honor at the competition. He applauded all the participating teams.

“This is the perfect platform for students to apply the knowledge they have gained through academics in real practical use,” he said. “I am pleased to see their performance.”

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