The 2019 iteration of the Mahindra BAJA SAE India concluded at NATRIP's facility in Pithampur, Indore. Held from 23-27 January 2019, it marked the 12th edition of the national-level inter-collegiate event.
And for this year, the BAJA SAE series saw 363 entry registrations with a total of 251 teams qualifying for the finals. It also marked the fifth edition of the eBAJA (electric-powered) event which received 50 entries this year with 22 teams making it to the final endurance race. For the mBAJA (petrol-powered) event, 85 teams out the 120 teams made it to the finale round. And similar to 2018, this year also witnessed participation from three all-girls teams.
Now, to qualify for the final round, participants went through stringent scrutiny which consisted of both static and dynamic evaluation of the buggies that are built from scratch. Most components are outsourced, but students are free to build the suspension, braking and transmission however, with the speed limited to 60kmph. The whole idea is to be able to build a prototype sans professional fabricators which would be faced with real-world challenges. These buggies usually weigh around 130kg, however, the 2019 event witnessed the lowest weight on a buggy at 121kg.
The static test checks boxes like the cost of building, technology innovation and safety. On the other hand, the dynamic test looks at the traction, acceleration and manoeuvrability of the buggy as well it’s the suspension setup. The main event which was an endurance race tested these buggies as well as the students that fabricated them to the limits. While the mBAJA teams have to undergo four-hours of endurance testing, the eBAJA has a more lenient two-hour event.
However, both builds went around a relentless track that offered heavy slush, steep drops and climbs, water bogging, ridges and all the works from automotive hell. To increase the strenuousness of the course, the 2019 iteration included a 'rock crawl' section. While some buggies crossed the sea of rocks with ease, some needed more than a push and shove by the support team.
At the end of the day, the Govt. College of Engineering, Pune came out victorious with DY Patil College of Engineering, Akurdi, Pune close behind. Silver Oak College of Engineering from Ahmedabad completed the podium finishing in third place. Meanwhile, Institute of Technology Nirma University from Ahmedabad won the eBAJA with BVB College of Engineering, Hubli bagging the second place. The shortlisted students of the BAJA Aptitude Test (BAT) will get an opportunity to be interviewed for employment with renowned organizations in the automotive industry.
The BAJA SAE India 2 will debut in Ropar, Punjab from 8-10 March with the participation of 81 teams. As an icing on the cake, Mahindra also announced that it will be organizing a BAJA 3 event in Chennai, further promoting participation from various engineering colleges in South India and increasing accessibility for budding talent in events like these.