Let 'er RIT

Toyota teams with Rochester Institute of Technology for off-road fun

December 14, 2016
Cool Rides -- Toyota team members brought race vehicles and volunteered as judges at the RIT Baja Society of Automotive Engineers competition. 

What do you get when you combine Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) engineering students, off-road vehicles and a roomful of Toyota judges?

A creative mix of speedy dune buggies that are capable of surviving — and excelling – on a rough terrain course.

For the last six years, Toyota has sponsored the RIT BAJA Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition. The four-day event in New York drew 97 teams, consisting of six to 30 students per team, and 13 Toyota team member volunteers.

SAE members came from as far away as Venezuela, Canada and Brazil. 

During the competition, teams were judged on a variety of factors including cost, design and decisions, acceleration, suspension and maneuverability performance. The competition culminated in a four-hour long endurance race.

“All of the vehicles must be designed to meet a rule set to assure occupant safety, and all have the same engine,” says TEMA engineer Alex Bandoski, who worked closely with Julie Belcher, specialist at TMMAL, to coordinate the event. “The rest of the vehicle is designed and built by the students, so the competition isn’t just about who has the best driver, but who has built the fastest and most reliable car.”

The event provided an opportunity for Toyota team members to network with students, conduct informal recruiting, discuss Toyota’s culture and answer questions about the new headquarters in Plano.

This year Toyota’s recruitment group included Production Engineering Motorsports team members who brought the Avalon V6 and Scion FRS race vehicles that had been built and raced in the One Lap of America competition in early 2016.

“Students were really drawn to these vehicles and excited to learn about how they could be involved in a racing team after college through employment at Toyota,” Bandoski says.

The BAJA SAE Rochester World Challenge VI returns in June 2019.


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