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Clarkson Mini-baja Team Tops In East

[A photograph of team members and their vehicle for newspaper use is available at]

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Clarkson University's Mini-Baja team won the Society of Automotive Engineers Mini-Baja East student competition at Tennessee State University in Cookeville, Tenn., in dramatic fashion on Saturday, May 16. The Mini-Baja project is an annual national competition between college engineering teams that must design, build and race an amphibious, off-road vehicle. In essence, these cars are small dune buggies which are powered by a mandatory five horsepower engine provided by Briggs and Stratton.minibaja

We put a lot of work into this, and it's paid off, said team member Matt Derosier ('00, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Northborough, Mass.). We built a good, quality car this year, and we're real proud of it."

The feelings are a complete 180-degree turn from last year.

It's pretty much worst-to-first, said team member Vinnie Leto ('98, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Torrington, Ct.), recalling last year's disappointing middle-of-the pack finish. "We came out of last year feeling pretty bad about everything. Our main goal this year was to turn it around and come out on top this year, and that's what we did."

This year, 40 schools participated in the three-day regional event. Points are awarded based on static events including sales presentation, cost estimate and mechanical design, as well as tests for acceleration, braking, water maneuvering, suspension and traction. An endurance race on the final day of competition tests the students ability to design a vehicle that can stand up to water obstacles and rough terrain.

This project is great hands-on engineering that brings out the best in some of our students, said Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Professor Steve Yugartis of Potsdam the team's adviser. "I'm grateful for the chance to spend some late nights in the shop working with dedicated and talented students. Our race performance was icing on the cake."

In addition to Derosier and Leto, other team members in Tennessee included team president Joe Manahan ('98, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, San Jose, Calif.), Jonathan Doncet ('00 Mechanical Engineering, Plainville, Conn.), Kevin Bergeron ('00 Mechanical Engineering, Jericho, Vt.), Jason Mitchell ('99, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Harrisville, N.Y.) and Jason Bosinski ('00, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, West Seneca, N.Y.).

Victory in hand, another race ensued for one of the Clarkson seven-- team president Manahan-- who was to graduate from Clarkson the following day. He drove more than a thousand miles to get back to Potsdam, arriving just one hour before commencement ceremonies began.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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