Louisiana Tech’s Baja Team Revs Up For a Mud-Spattering Triumph

Warm photo of COES alumnus Don Metz
Aidan Willis lets the car rip up the test track before going on to place in the top 20 for the maneuverability course.

For Louisiana Tech’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja team, engineering isn’t just theory; it’s a full-throttle adventure into the mud and mechanics. Throw in a well-executed plan and a better-than-expected 2023 performance, and you’ve got the excitement that’s driving the 2024 team.

After finishing in the top third at the 2023 competition, the team, led by president Aiden Willis, immediately created a game plan for 2024 – one they’ve almost completed.

From redesigning the drivetrain to rebuilding the buggy’s suspension system to reducing its weight, this team has invested countless hours into making sure that Louisiana Tech and the College of Engineering and Science are well represented at the next competition.

Warm photo of Louisiana Tech alums Don and Ann Metz
After a week of trials and tribulations, the team faces their last race: A four-hour circuit with all teams competing at once.

“I know this competition will be one of our best performances,” Nathan Theriot, mechanical engineering junior and team publicity chair, said.

“Engineering at Louisiana Tech is not just about sitting in a classroom; it’s about getting out there and getting dirty,” explains Anthony Denova, a first-year mechanical engineering major and the Baja team’s newest recruit. “Building something you can actually see perform in the real world is an invaluable experience.”

This diverse group of Bulldogs—from the future mechanical engineers to the aspiring computer scientists—is not just looking to compete; they’re aiming to innovate and improve.

“We’re not just preparing for a competition; we’re preparing for our futures,” Denova asserts.

Matthew Byrnes, mechanical engineering ‘22 alum and past team president, said his experiences with the Baja competition directly impacted his career. The challenges he faced and overcame on the dirt tracks and in the team shop gave him experience in automotive engineering and leadership.

The Baja project was more than just an extracurricular activity; it was a cornerstone of my engineering education. My first job was as a propulsion engineer at SpaceX for the Starship program, designing tooling and fabrication procedures for spaceship plumbing for the world’s most powerful rocket! For my interview, I gave a presentation on the Baja car’s design and fabrication. I later left there for Honda, where I work today on EV systems because automotive design was always the goal. I owe everything to those little go-karts in college.

Matthew Byrnes

Mechanical Engineering ‘22 Alumnus, Louisiana Tech University

As the team prepares for another season, they embody the University’s commitment to innovation, teamwork, and practical education. They’re not just building a vehicle; they’re cultivating skills, character, and professional readiness…and hopefully, a top performance at the 2024 competition.

If you would like to help them pay for parts and travel, please visit their Bull Market fundraiser or contact the team directly.

For more information contact our team

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