Breaking Boundaries - Team Baja Bhais

Tech 101 Mar 2, 2015

The Baja Bhais showed why they are a force to reckon with in the recently concluded SAE Baja India in Pithampur. The Bridge provides an insight into the wonderful world of Baja, and the Baja bhais of PSG Tech.

The Baja bhais of PSG Tech (pronounced as ‘Baha Bhais’) emerged victorious in the SAE Baja India events held on February 19-22 in Pithampur this year. They discovered light at the end of a tireless, determined walk through the tunnel. It was a perfect culmination of many months of hardwork, grit and determination to strive for their passion. They spent many sleepless nights building their much-lauded vehicle in their lab in our college. Day in and day out, the team worked towards the common goal- to create the machine at its best- and they were much respected by the 3000 like-minded engineers who came together in Pithampur. It was not just respect. The team was among the favourties with the crowd who did not miss any chance to click a picture with the All Terrain Vehicle that the Baja Bhais developed.

The team, ably led by captain KISHOR R. (B.E. Automobile 2011-15) won laurels for the college as well! 360 teams participated in the virtuals from which 109 teams qualified for the Pithampur event. These 109 teams, spread across the length and breadth of India, were put through scrutiny during inspection and around 70 teams cleared the stringent inspection stage to be eligible for participation in the main event. They were placed 1st in the Suspension and Traction event (an event introduced only last year. Incidentally, Baja Bhais were placed first last year too) and bagged a whooping cash prize of 1 Lakh rupees, a feat that is by no means easy. They didn’t stop there! They were placed 2nd in the Manoeuvrability event too, an event known for posing a huge challenge to even the best teams, winning a noteworthy cash prize of 50,000 rupees. They were one of only 6 teams out of nearly 60 teams to complete the Endurance race and emerge successfully. The race track was specially designed with innumerable turns and it posed a challenge never encountered in the previous years. Hence, completing the Endruance race is an unparalleled achievement. The performance of the The All Terrain Vehicle designed by our Baja Bhais weighed 198 kgs.

Winning accolades and making a mark one year after the other, like our very own Baja Bhais is not so easy. What makes them such an indomitable force? How are they able to produce such results so consistently? The Bridge decided to find out. During an interaction with the Baja Bhais, Team Bridge ventured into the realm of Baja and Baja Bhais.

Who are the Baja Bhais?

PSG Tech is home to many, around 8,500 students, and is also home to the Baja Bhais.

The Baja Bhais of PSG Tech, started in 2009 with the apt motto “The face of Change”, are among the most lauded teams in SAE Baja India, with a list of achievements that is long enough to stretch the entirety of the racetrack, including overall 3rd,4th and 5th place. In most other colleges, students from all departments take part in the entire process, but until now the people of the Baja Bhais have created legacy with people only from the streams of Automobile, Mechanical& Production Engineering. Starting in 2012, the Baja Bhais have been awarded the ‘Lightest Car Design’ award for three years in a row.

The recruitment process that takes place in the 3rd year involves a written test and an interview by the previous heads of the team. Be advised, being a part of the team isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You could say the team members “work as hard as farm hands”, but that is still grossly understating the effort these people put into it. The sheer amount of blood and sweat spent by the team on the car is virtually unparalleled. Most team members head home only once they have accomplished the work assigned to them for the day, and that may last upto 3 or 4 A.M.

Baja Bhais are funded by a variety of companies. The Baja Bhais are ever-thankful to their sponsors PTC, Cummins, My TVS and their sister companies for having funded their efforts all along, and are also thankful to the college, for having permitted them to make use of their space and equipments. The Baja Bhais Team feels that funding should not be a limiting factor to their achievable bounds.

How has the car been designed this time round?

With every single factor of the terrain in mind, the ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) is setup such that it is able to tackle anything the track might throw at it. Weight reduction and ground clearance are vital to an ATV’s performance on the track, thereby enabling better overall manoeuvrability around the track. Custom made aluminium parts are thrown in the mix (Baja Bhais have a reputation for manufacturing custom-made parts which, very few colleges across the country do). Considering the car runs for just two months at the most, the fatigue life is drastically lesser and since the vehicle is relatively lighter, custom made aluminium parts not only fit the requirements, but also aid in weight reduction.

What exactly are the advancements that have gone into the car?

CVT(Continuously Variable Transmission) is a transmission that can change seamlessly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios. The effective tuning of CVT, coupled with the custom made gearbox developed by the team this time round considering their torque requirements, has definitely given them the edge in terms of acceleration times.

Do they want to source parts from other vehicles? No, thank you, they say! Because of the fact that the vehicle weighs only around 200kg, sourced parts will drastically increase weight. Hence tailor-made parts have enabled them to achieve top 10 overall acceleration times.

Another advancement this time compared to the differential last year is the spool setup, wherein part of the steering is aided by the powertrain, thereby enabling drifting. This makes steering the vehicle a breeze and reduces lap times.

What is the “back breaking” endurance test all about?

The endurance test is pretty simple. Drive your vehicle for four hours, without it breaking down, in a track with turns too numerous to count on a terrain filled with muddy pits and what not. To ensure that no parts fail, the overall quality of the parts is increased and they are made more robust so as to withstand the continuous load.

There are other events that factor in too, like the “hill climb” and “suspension and traction” , “figure of 8” and brake & safety tests.

How exactly does Baja happen?

The entire event spans three to four days. The first day consists of the “figure of 8”, brake and general inspection, upon completion of which three stickers are awarded which are required to take part in the dynamic events that follow.

The second day comprises the cost report includes a presentation of the entire cost of building of the car and an evaluation of the car design. Eight members of the team representing various subsystems conduct a presentation for half an hour, detailing the various subsystems developed by them.

This is followed by the marketing presentation, wherein the team is required to market their model to a mock panel, by means of comparisons, cost estimates, etc.

The entire team yearns to go international considering their exuberant reputation in India, and they hope to achieve what is absolutely within their grasp. The Baja Bhais is looking for enthusiasts who can sponsor them in their path towards glory and pride.

We asked the team about the thrilling event and what ‘Baja Bhais’ means to them and they were quick with their whole-hearted replies.

"This is probably the best example of when the book does not teach you, but experience does"- SASIKUMAR.V (B.E. Automobile Engg., 2012-2016)
"To work on the car is an absolute dream come true for me"-RAJA DURAI, Brakes Head and Vice Captain (B.E. Automobile Engg., 2011-2015)
"In our team, when we need to do something, we get it done. Thanks to sheer interest!"-SENTHIL RAJ (B.E. Production Engg., 2012-2016)
"Three years of my adventurous journey with one of the best racing teams in India is a wonderful learning experience. This year’s vehicle is an excellently engineered vehicle which helped us earn plaudits. I felt this year’s race was the more competitive than the 2014 season. I will miss the Baja Bhais family and I hope the future Baja Bhais would continue the legacy we have created"- C. ABHINANDAN, Driver (B.E. Mechanical SW, 2010-2015)
"We earned a lot of respect and fan following at Pithampur. It was the perfect concoction of adrenaline rush, contentment and a feeling of great joy!"- S. MOHAMMED YASIR, Brakes Team (B.E. Production Engg, 2011-2015)
"That feeling you get when you see your hard-work paying off is the best kind there is!"- PRITHIV SURESH (B.E. Automobile Engg., 2012-2016)

Pictures by John George (B.E. Production SW, 2012-17)


Aditya Rajendran

Along with Gopalakrishnan U

Aditya is a unique individual with interests ranging from physics and electronics to astronomy and English literature. He is an accomplished gamer, likes to be up to date with prototype technologies.