Caterpillar hosts Baja Illinois 2017: Teamwork, Transformation and Engineering

Baja Illinois 2017

Caterpillar hosts Baja Illinois 2017: Teamwork, Transformation and Engineering

Loud, tough, rugged and smart, that’s how observers of 2017 Baja SAE Illinois described this year’s competition.   The four day event brought more than 1400 college students from roughly 110 teams around the world to Caterpillar’s Edwards Learning and Demonstration Center to test their engineering, design and endurance skills. 

This is the fifth time Caterpillar has hosted a Baja event.   Every three years, Caterpillar engineers, volunteers and operators pride themselves in converting the facility into the most rugged obstacle course of the Baja season.  Engineers on the planning committee and Caterpillar Operators worked together to create the obstacles and design the track. Eight full-time Edwards operators worked roughly 200 hours digging, trenching and building the course.

“The exciting part for me isn’t the creation of the course,” says Chad Cremeens, Caterpillar Field Operators Supervisor. “While the track is incredible, it’s watching the teamwork in action.  I love to see the team of roughly 25 engineers and the operators working together to get the job done.  It’s Caterpillar at its best.” 

The object of the competition is to provide Society of Automotive Engineer (SAE) students with a project that involves the engineering skills needed to introduce a new product to the market.  Students must function as a team to not only design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle within the limits of the rules, but also to generate financial support for the project.  The goal is for the students to manage and resolve real life issues that happen on a daily basis in the workplace -- providing them with a once in a lifetime experience not found in a text book.  

“The competition is an excellent way for Caterpillar to showcase its support of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum and promote hands-on learning,” said Cat Vice President Jean Savage.  “It’s also a great way to expose college students to all the career opportunities that we have to offer.”

Caterpillar engineering supervisor Kelsey Anderson who has been with the company 15 years adds, “I wish when I was college student I knew how fun engineering would be.  The five grueling years of all-nighters have definitely paid off. I have traveled the world while continuing to learn and work on some really cool projects.”

The Caterpillar team’s hard work continues to pay off.  The Edwards course is ranked one of the hardest yet best competitions on the circuit by the students. Watch and learn why:


Cat engineers and operators converted the facility into the most rugged obstacle course of the season



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