Rowan students promoting STEM with ‘Motorsports Day’

If you go: The Motorsports Day will be held at South Jersey Technology Park in Mullica Hill from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free and attendees who wish to bring their cars for the event are suggested to arrive by 11:45 a.m.

A student is pictured driving one of Rowan’s Baja SAE cars. (Elizabeth Henning/ Special to The Sun).

The South Jersey Technology Park will be the home of Rowan University engineering students’ second annual Motorsports Day and Car Show on May 4.

The free event runs from noon until 4 p.m. and includes food, music and a demonstration on the students’ Baja SAE cars, off-road vehicles designed by engineering students for the purpose of intercollegiate competitions, regulated by the Society of American Engineers.

The event is rain or shine.

Rowan SAE president and engineering student Elizabeth Henning said the public will also be given the opportunity to race the single-seater cars during the event on the demonstration track.

She added the age limit is 18 since the driver will be alone in the car and those wishing to drive need to wear closed-toed shoes and long pants as the track can be muddy.

“[The cars are] designed to get driven and withstand a lot,” she said. “We design them so that anyone could drive it.”

Last year, Henning said people timed themselves against their friends to see if they could beat one another for bragging rights, and the group is looking to do it again this year.

From her experience in the cars, she said a difference can be felt in how they maneuver on the track and the durability of the vehicles.

Previously, the event was originally created as an alumni car show and included a meet and greet with students. Current students, Henning added, evolved the Motorsports Day to include their Baja SAE cars and opened it to the public to show what the students are currently doing. The event had over 100 people in attendance last year.

“Some people don’t know what Baja really is and we’d like to showcase that,” Henning said. “It’s also a good opportunity to make people interested in the automotive field and STEM in general.”

Henning said the students create a vehicle each year to participate in SAE’s Baja events. From April 11 to the 14, they competed in the Tennessee Tech event in Cookeville, Tenn., against 100 other universities.

“It’s designed for a four-hour endurance race, and we also go to different dynamic events, forward suspension, maneuverability, sled pull and acceleration,” she said.

During the event, she added people are welcome to bring their cars for a car show, at which she has seen sports cars such as a Mazda Miata, Corvette and the run-of-the-mill vehicles like a Jeep. Drivers are asked to arrive by 11:45 a.m.

Henning said drivers do not need to worry about their cars getting dirty as they’ll be parked on a paved road, away from the track.

“It’s something really exciting that people don’t get to see very often,” she added. “Unless you’re in an engineering program at a university, you never see Baja cars being driven, and it’s nice being able to interact with the engineering students and ask them ‘why did you design that this way,’ ‘what kind of design plans do you have for next year?'”