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Clarkson Mini-baja Places 10th At East Regionals: Fourth Top-10 Finish In Five Years

[High-rez JPEGs for newspaper use are available at]

STE.-ADÈLE, QUÉBEC – Clarkson University’s Mini-Baja team finished 10th overall at the Mini-Baja East regional competition held May 11-13 in the Montreal suburb of Ste.-Adèle.

The team overcame a pair of setbacks on the final day of competition to secure its fourth top-10 finish in five years.Jonathan R.

“I am very pleased with the team's performance,” said Tina C. Yuille, director of Clarkson University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program, which oversees Mini-Baja.  “The team worked very hard designing and building the car. Based on how the car performed during the competition, it was apparent that the students learned a lot about engineering design and fabrication. 

“It was also clear that the team grasped the importance of effectively working in a team environment.  When faced with adversity, the students were supportive of each other and worked together.  I am extremely proud of the students, and I know that they have what it takes to do extremely well in the real world.”

Four team members are from the North Country: Melissa R. Hill '00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering) of Hogansburg, N.Y., Daren E. Krayenvenger  ’00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering) of Watertown, N.Y., Michael P. Jackson ’00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering) of Harrisville, N.Y., and Eric Smith ’03 Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering) of Richville, N.Y.

The annual competition is sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.  This year’s event was hosted by the University of Quebec’s École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) on the grounds of the Hôtel Le Chanticler.

“We had some bad luck at the beginning, damaging the car, but the team did a great job, as usual,” said Steven W. Yurgartis, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering and an adviser to the team.  “That’s one of the great things about the contest—the way team comes together and works together.  They never give up, and they didn’t give up.”

Thirty-eight colleges from the United States, Canada and Mexico put their cars through two days of testing to determine speed, maneuvering capabilities through water and over rough terrain, braking power, and towing capability.  The third day of competition featured an endurance race where teams competed to complete as many laps as possible over a four-hour period.

Going into the final day, Clarkson’s performance in the testing events left them second overall.  On lap three of the endurance race, driver Jason R. Bosinski '00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, West Seneca, N.Y.) hit a tree on the course.  Bosinski was unhurt, but the car’s right front area was damaged.

“I was able to tell that the steering wasn’t working,” said Bosinski.  “So, I just veered off to the side and called for help, and we pushed it back to the pits.”

Back in the pit, team members feverishly worked to get the car back in the race in as little time as possible.

“The whole right side of the car was bent,” said team member Melissa R. Hill '00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Hogansburg, N.Y.).  “We replaced the front rack with the rear rack.  We swapped them.  The guys did a really good job working quickly and working together.”

Two hours later, the car was back on the course.  “It took a little bit longer than we wanted,” said team member Jonathan R. “J.D.”  Doncet ’00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Plainville, Conn.), “but what we got out of it was engineering at its best.”

The car managed to complete two more laps, but with about 30 minutes remaining, another problem flared up.  Driver Matthew P. Derosier '00 (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Northboro, Mass.) was trying to avoid a mud pit when “the car spun right around.  I thought I had just lost traction.  I drove a little bit and it was driving diagonally, so I knew something was up.”

Fortunately, said Derosier, team members were nearby and were able to fix the problem, allowing him to finish the race.

SPEED promotes project-based learning opportunities by providing engineering design opportunities for Clarkson students through 14 projects, including FIRST Robotics, Formula SAE Racing and Solar Car.  SPEED is supported by grants from General Electric, Alcoa, Goodyear, Nestlé, Corning and Kodak.

PHOTO CAPTION: Driver Jonathan R. “J.D.” Doncet makes a splash during the water maneuverability event at the Mini-Baja East regionals in Ste.-Adèle, Québec. Photo by Kierre L. Daniels, Clarkson University News Services.

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

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