Mechanical Engineering - Cooperative Education
Bachelor of Science
Date of Graduation
Our senior design team chose to team up with The University of Akron’s SAE Zips Baja Team. The Zips Baja Team races off-road vehicles that they build every year. The team is trying to optimize and improve several sub categories for the 2019 car such as steering, drivetrain and suspension. Our design team met with a couple of the captains on the Zips Baja Team and were given a few choices of what sub category we could focus on for our project. We decided to take on the task of improving the vehicle steering rack and pinion gear system. The rack and pinion is a critical component of the steering system that transfers driver steering input to wheel turning on the vehicle.
The main goal of our project was to maintain the team’s factor of safety while reducing the total weight of the rack and pinion system by 10%. The reason for this goal was to work with the Baja Team’s overall goal of reducing total vehicle weight to improve the Baja vehicles acceleration score. If we could exceed our goal of a 10% weight reduction in our sub-category that can act as a buffer for another sub-category that couldn't achieve a 10% weight reduction. The current weight of ZB18 (the 2018 car) is 337 lb.The weight of the car four years ago was 400 lb. That's an average reduction of 15.75 lb per year. That is roughly a four percent weight reduction per year on average, thus a goal of a ten percent weight reduction for the 2019 car is more than double what has been achieved the last four years.
The second goal of our project was to reduce the cost of the overall rack and pinion system. This was in conjunction with the team’s overall goal to reduce the car cost by 20%. The cost of ZB18 was $8976.65 which factors in material cost, labor and machining for the car. To quantify the cost of the rack and pinion system, we took into account the same factors.
The motivation for this project was to obtain a better understanding of material properties and gain knowledge and experience in different types of material testing. This project provided real world experience of the different types of material testing that we have learned about in the classroom, but had not yet performed. This project also provided a great opportunity to redesign and improve an already existing design. Receiving experience in mechanical testing and in redesigning a mechanical system was of great benefit to our team. Helping the Zips Baja Team’s racing performance by improving a system on one of the cars was also an additional incentive. Our work on this project will be able to improve the performance on one of The University of Akron’s best design teams. Go Zips!
SAE Zips Baja Design Team
Jackson, Devin, "Baja Rack and Pinion" (2019). Williams Honors College, Honors Research Projects. 927.