When Buffalo State engineering technology graduates share their resumes with potential employers, one item always commands attention—participation in the Society of Automotive Engineers Mini Baja Competition.
"Employers will ask the graduates, 'What part did you work on?'" said Jim Mayrose, associate professor and chair of the Engineering Technology Department. "Participating in Mini Baja is a fantastic and extremely valuable experience for our students."
Begun in 1976, the annual competition challenges engineering students to race off-road dune buggies that they built together. Five mechanical engineering students compose this year’s Buffalo State team.
The three men and two women are working in and out of class to design and construct the vehicle that one team member will drive in the May 7–9 competition held on a motocross track in Mechanicsville, Maryland. Approximately 100 college teams will race their buggies in the competition judged on acceleration, hill climb, maneuverability, and suspension.
This kind of transference of theory into action is what employers repeatedly say they want to see in new graduates, Mayrose noted.
However, the Mini Baja competition is expensive. The entry fee is $1,110, and the engine and parts can run up to $15,000. While local companies donate some materials and students fundraise, that usually does not cover all of the costs. This is where Buffalo State faculty and staff can help. Through the annual Faculty and Staff Appeal, members of the Buffalo State community can designate any amount as a payroll deduction or a one-time gift to the Mini Baja Fund, one of many scholarships and funds that make up the appeal.
Carolyn Martino, assistant to the provost, has contributed annually to this fund since witnessing how much her son, Daniel, got out of the Mini Baja competition in 2012.
"It was a great experience. He developed real-life engineering skills, including problem-solving, financial management, and technical writing," said Martino. Daniel has since completed a master’s degree and is now employed at Moog.
"I know Buffalo State competes against schools that have more resources," said Martino. "Every dollar is important to our students. Seeing the process of the competition and all the work that goes into it inspired me to support future teams."
To contribute to the Mini Baja Fund or any of the funds within the 2015 Faculty and Staff Appeal, contact Claire Collier at (716) 878-5206. To see a full list of funds and scholarships, go to http://giving.buffalostate.edu/facultystaffappeal
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