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The North Wind

The North Wind

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Chloe Everson
Chloe Everson
Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Chloe and I am a fourth-year senior here at NMU. I am a Public Relations major and have always enjoyed sports. I love being outdoors, shopping, and drinking coffee at all hours of the...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Students build car for Oregon race

Teamwork and applying classroom learning to real situations are two of the skills several NMU students are putting to work as they design and build their very own car.

Associate Professor Robert Marlor of the Engineering Technology Department advises the large group of students as they build a fully functioning car. The car must be built in time to compete in the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Portland, Ore. race in May.

“There have been between 15 and 20 students involved this year, so that’s a really positive thing for us,” Marlor said. “We can keep building and learning. Just like a sports team, you need the promising freshmen along with the experienced seniors.”

The term ‘baja car’ comes from Baja, Calif., where the competitors began, racing dune buggies off-road across the desert. The four-hour endurance race is the main event, with several smaller events spread out over several days, including a hill climbing event, an acceleration event and a rock-crawling event.

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In the rock-crawling event, dune buggies literally scale rock cliffs, similar to regular rock climbing, but with a car, and up a much shorter rock face.

Nearly 100 other cars run in these races and with this much competition, it is extremely important for participants to keep the car in working order.

“Getting through the technical inspections is a big challenge for all the teams,” Marlor said. “Last year at Montreal, out of 100 cars only about nine cars passed the inspection the first time. And these courses are so grueling . If we can keep the car on the race course, we’ll easily place in the middle of the pack.”

All students who participate in the Baja car project learn a lot, according to Marlor, but those involved with the technical aspects definitely have a lot to learn about.

“Because many of them are engineering technology students, they’re learning to do engineering technology design in a very intensive way,” Marlor said. “They’re also faced with having to build what they design, which is a real reality check.”

However, the hard work does have benefits. The biggest motivator is the opportunity to race the car when the team is done building it. For senior mechanical engineering major Jesse Nye, it is also about getting real building experience and having fun in the process.

“Initially my interest was in off-road vehicles, and from there it turned into a really cool engineering project,” Nye said. “Not only are you building a really fun off-road vehicle, but the things you learn in the classroom, you get to see the hands-on side of. It’s not all theoretical . It’s a really good way for everyone to work together, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Most of the students working on the car are in the Engineering Technology Department, and focused on the technical aspects, but Marlor said that other majors can benefit from getting involved and do not need technical skills to do so.

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