The objective of the SAE Baja® competition is to expose tertiary students to planning, design and manufacture of a real world engineering project. This equips them with the required skills necessary for real world engineering.
The SAE Baja® competition originated at the University of South Carolina in the United States in 1976, under the supervision of Dr. J.F. Stevens. It is currently administrated by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). Locally, the SAE Baja® competition was initiated in 1996 by Mr. Barry Grobbelaar and Mr. Francois Naude from the department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Pretoria.
The scope of the project is to design and build a prototype, four-wheeled, single-seater, off-road recreational vehicle, to meet a given set design specifications. The vehicle must be safe, easy to transport and service, fun to drive and good looking. It should also be able to negotiate rough terrain and handle anything a recreational user will most likely put it through. Apart from certain minimum safety requirements, the design is open to the initiative and ingenuity of the students.
The action-packed annual National competition, held in October each year, forms the culmination of 9 month's hard work by the students from the various tertiary institutions. The final competition consists of four parts namely safety judging, design evaluation, performance testing and a four hour endurance aimed at pushing the vehicles to the limits of their durability.