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Baja Kansas site taking shape

April 05, 2011 12:00AM

Baja Kansas site taking shape
Brandon Philbrook, freshman from DeSoto, Kan., does some of the heavy lifting at the Baja Kansas site.

With the 2011 SAE Baja Kansas competition just seven weeks away, final plans for the event are getting down to the nitty gritty. For the students in the Department of Construction Management and Construction Engineering Technologies, "gritty" is really the key term.

Teams of students and faculty at Pittsburg State are coming together to make sure everything, from T-shirts to vendors, is ready for the Memorial weekend event.

Recently, the construction students using the Baja competition as their senior capstone project received approval from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to move forward with their plans to build several tracks for the competition at the site located just east of the Kansas Technology Center. The plans call for several tracks, including an acceleration track, suspension track and endurance track, which at 1-1/2 miles is the longest. There are also other places including the paddocks, hot pits, and staging areas that need to be constructed.

Late last week and this week, the teams have been working to build pedestrian and vehicle bridges over the small creek that runs through the property. Before beginning any work, however, the team had to create a storm water protection plan. They worked with Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) for months to get the plan, which calls for grass and natural terrain to act as a sediment filter, approved.

Continuing the theme of using natural resources, co-organizer Bob Schroer said Baja workers will use a biodegradable, powdered product to absorb any fuel or motor spillage. Also, if weather permits and the paddock area is located on the grass near the tracks, workers will use a pad-type material on the ground to absorb spillage. The students have a goal of late April to have the site complete.

"We're trying to make this an environmentally conscious event from the standpoint of the construction and operation of track," Schroer said. "We want to make sure there are no runoffs into streams, and we're making sure we protect the ground from fuel and oil spills."

Joe Levens, a CMCET professor who is working with construction students on the tracks, said the steps they are taking to create the Baja competition site are giving them excellent preparation for the future.

"They are learning how to communicate, work in teams, order supplies, coordinate people and resources, and contend with bad weather," Levens said. "It's like a normal construction project. It's a great learning opportunity for them."

For more information on the students and their work at the site, contact Levens at 620-235-6181.

©2011 Pittsburg State University

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