PTG had the opportunity to donate 662 titanium round bar to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Baja SAE Team for the 2018/2019 racing season. Unfortunately, they were unable to find a sponsor that could machine the titanium into parts for them, but they have big plans for next year’s car! We interviewed Josh, the team’s Chief Engineer, to find out more.
PTG: Tell us a little about your team and the role you play. How has being a part of UIUC Baja benefited you? What will you take away from this experience and be able to apply to future professional opportunities?
Josh: I’m currently the Chief Engineer of the Baja SAE team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My role involves setting project goals and validating engineering decisions through software like Ansys FEA. The club has taught me real applicable engineering skills that will be useful in the engineering industry post graduation. These skills include project management and machining of components, both of which aren’t specifically taught in the engineering curriculum and are critical to working in the engineering world.
PTG: Has the team ever used titanium before? Did you run into any challenges?
Josh: The team has never used titanium before. The biggest challenge we’ve had is with machining the titanium, as the CNC we have in our shop isn’t powerful enough to cut the material while holding critical component tolerances.
PTG: What’s the benefit of using titanium vs. materials you’ve used in the past? How are you anticipating that this will help you in competition?
Josh: Titanium is a very strong material and allows us to make components smaller, which allows us to hit our overall performance goals. Our driveshafts this year were made out of 7075-T6 aluminum, and while the components were strong enough for us and didn’t fail during competition we had to limit the angle of the U-joints so the two aluminum yokes didn’t collide with each other. The redesigned titanium version allows the driveshafts to operate at a greater angle, allowing the team to increase the rear ground clearance of the car, which was one of our team goals for our 2019 season. We anticipate this helping immensely through the rock crawls of the competition, as we lost points in 2018 due to hitting the bottom of the car on obstacles.
PTG: When and where will you be competing?
Josh: We competed in Tennessee in April, California in May, and Rochester, New York in June.
We wish them luck as they finish up this racing season and look forward to seeing the titanium parts come together for them next year!
For more info on the team, or to get more info on sponsoring them with machining services, visit: https://offroadillini.mechse.illinois.edu/