How to Work on Your Vehicle During A Pandemic - Part 2!

As we saw in Part 1 of this series - How to Work on Your Vehicle During a Pandemic, this year could have thrown a wrench into our vehicle teams’ plans for the year.  But as they often do, Olin students got creative.  Here Shree gives us a look at Baja - a second vehicle team at Olin, and how they’ve been spending their time in moving ahead with their vehicle during the days of Covid.  

Every year at the beginning of the semester, it’s Baja tradition to hold a drive day to welcome incoming members. They bring out the car from the previous year and let new members drive it around, getting the team excited about the upcoming season. This is one of many traditions that Baja has not been able to celebrate this semester with the current state of the world. But if there’s anything this team shows, it’s resilience. Despite many challenges, some caused by COVID-19 and others not, Baja continues to show it’s tenacity as a build team here at Olin. In a typical season of Baja, the fall semester would be used to work on and finish the design whereas the spring semester is mainly focused on fabricating the car. Baja builds 90% of the car themselves in the Olin shop. 

Not surprisingly, this year has played out a little differently. Still living by its main mission of helping underclassmen gain experience, Baja initially switched to a completely virtual setting and held practices online. However, in order to make it a more collaborative process and allow new members more experience directly working with returning members, Baja decided to take advantage of the open rooms in the Miller Academic Center(MAC), reserving rooms for every practice.

Thus began the era of hybrid practices, which is what Baja is continuing to do this semester.

Olin Baja students hold a socially distanced and masked hybrid practice in the MAC.

Olin Baja students hold a socially distanced and masked hybrid practice in the MAC.

By moving to this hybrid system, they have been able to accomplish more as a team because they are able to more freely collaborate. Yet at the same time, Baja has learned new strategies operating with zoom to make communication easier. By using features like annotation on Zoom, the Baja team has found advantages to the online setting we have found ourselves in. This allows team members to easily point out different icons while working on CADing the design. They feel that this could become a regular Baja strategy.

Even with the shifting time, Baja has tried to recreate their typical traditions in a COVID-safe fashion. Every year, including this year, at the end of semester 1, Baja takes gingerbread kits and makes gingerbread cars. For people on campus, they gathered in the MAC and built cars together while remote members zoomed in and drew their cars on zoom whiteboards. They are even planning to do a socially-distanced drive day later this semester, since most new members are on campus!

Olin Baja students execute virtual gingerbread car building

Keeping with end of semester I traditions but adding a twist, remote Olin Baja students employed some sweet virtual gingerbread car building.

Baja’s main focus this semester will be re-designing their car into a four-wheel drive car, as that’s a new requirement starting next year. And along the way they plan to also work on creating a better, more collaborative environment during hybrid practices  - even for members who are zooming in.