2021 UCI Baja Race Team

Final Report:

I have seen intercollegiate engineering competitions like the Baja Validation Event organized by SAE International become important educational experiences. Working together to accomplish a complex task, forces students to become engineers. They see first-hand the benefits of integrated design, simulation, fabrication and testing. And perhaps, more importantly, they learn to work as a team, communicating effectively, meeting responsibilities, respecting differences, and pushing toward a shared goal.

This video captures the results of the work of the 2021 UCI Baja Race Team, who designed, built and tested their vehicle while under the severe pandemic restrictions. I hope you see the commitment and hard work of these young engineers under uniquely difficult circumstances show that our future is in good hands.

Wing Mechanisms

Repurposing Jansen’s Leg Mechanism:

Innovative mechanical flyers were designed by student teams in my Kinematic Synthesis class based on a repurposed version of Jansen’s leg mechanism. The artist Theo Jansen has inspired many of my students with his dramatic assemblies of leg mechanisms to form his Strandbeest wandering on a beach under the power of a sea breeze. 

A generalization of Jansen’s leg has the hip and knee joints driven by separate four-bar function generators to provide a wide variety of foot trajectories. This generalized version of Jansen’s linkage can be adapted to form a wing mechanism that has a desired wing-tip trajectory. 

This video shows the Geogebra model of a wing mechanism based on Jansen’s linkage, and three digital prototypes of mechanical flyers obtained by my students using this mechanism.