By Mario Gutierrez (Mechanical Engineering, ’19)

This year the exterior design team faces new challenges with a wide variety of new solutions. Ranging from new stickers to a whole new CVT cooling system, the team is ready to innovate and use new technology in the car. As always, Exterior Design is charge of:

  1. protecting the driver and components from the hazardous environment
  2. facilitating the maintenance process in the car
  3. adding an identity to the vehicle by adding sponsors, numbers, stickers, colors, and ideas
  4. ensuring the delivery of an aesthetic final product to garner respect from the community

The first and most complex issue the team faces is cooling down the continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the rear of the car. The CVT can reach a maximum temperature of 120 oC (248 oF) because of the heat trapped inside the cover and the belt. This high amount of heat can be a major detriment when racing in an endurance race and can also affect the general performance of the car. The plan of action is simple: changing the material of the cover from fiberglass to aluminum sheet with mesh. Although it might seem a little unusual to transition from fiberglass to aluminum, the main reason for this is that aluminum can absorb the heat generated on the inside, unlike fiberglass, which insulates the enclosed system and prevents heat from flowing out. Therefore, to ensure the success of this new project, we are incorporating a cooling fan to the primary shaft of the CVT, this together with a mesh on the side of the cover, will allow heat to exit and reduce to temperature by nearly 30% (with respect to a CVT without this system)*.

Since we are committed to the improvement of all the components in the car, we will starting concentrating in those that are specifically vital for maintenance. For example, one of the projects we are working on currently is adding a hinge to the front to allow axial movement of one of the body panels to access the brakes, brake fluid reservoirs, steering wheel rack, pedals, and more (basically the same idea behind the hood of a car but in a Baja vehicle).

These are only some of the projects we are currently working on. This season brings new challenges since we are building a brand new car, and it’s also a great opportunity to innovate and show how the University of Rochester can generate new solutions in the world of automotive engineering and Baja racing.

*JSAE 20139073 / SAE 2013-32-9073

Experimental Investigations of Forced Air Cooling for Continuously Variable Transmission(CVT)

Abhishek Lakhanlal Vaishya