Fostering innovation: How Oshkosh Corporation hosted a Baja SAE competition

July 13, 2023


More than 1,000 engineering students from 67 universities around the globe gathered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to compete in the 2023 Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series (CDS) competition, which challenged students to build a custom, single-seat vehicle around a specified engine that could pass rigorous inspections and a series of dynamic tests – including a four-hour endurance event – on a course designed by Oshkosh engineers. 

As a global leader in engineering purpose-built vehicles, Oshkosh was proud to provide a platform for students to gain first-hand experience in pursuing their passion while managing real-life demands. SAE CDS has carefully crafted its programs with the intent to develop soft skills, foster teamwork and expand critical thinking, allowing students to showcase their talents and ingenuity.


Our journey to hosting

Oshkosh has a strong history of supporting students in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) initiatives. Investing in STEM education is critical to the success of our future workforce. Through partnerships with local schools, universities and organizations like SAE CDS, we’re able to provide opportunities for students to engage in hands-on STEM learning experiences.

In 2018, Oshkosh Corporation embarked on an ambitious plan to host a Baja SAE CDS competition while simultaneously increasing our presence and support at other notable SAE events. Despite the scale of this undertaking, our team remained steadfast in our commitment to bringing this vision to life. Upon selection to host the 2023 Baja SAE competition, our planning committee received unwavering support and enthusiasm from both our leadership and team members. Over 200 volunteers dedicated their time and talent to bring the event to fruition, attracting over 1,500+ students and community members who came together to celebrate and support the participating teams.


Chief technology and strategic sourcing officer, Jay Iyengar (middle left), with Oshkosh team members who organized Baja SAE Oshkosh

Chief technology and strategic sourcing officer, Jay Iyengar (middle left), with team members and Baja SAE Oshkosh event organizers Todd (far left), Brady (middle right) and Molly (far right).


Bringing the competition to life

In collaboration with SAE CDS and other partners, Oshkosh engineers designed a demanding course that pushed the limits of our student participants. This year's competition required students to design their vehicles with four-wheel drive, aligning with our rich history of innovation and engineering excellence. The design requirement added elements of excitement and difficulty, especially given the challenging weather conditions that made for a wet and muddy course. Despite these obstacles, teams rose to the occasion, demonstrating their grit and determination.

Prior to the dynamic events, students were subject to a series of technical inspections that evaluated their skills and comprehension of the engineering design process across all aspects of their vehicle including brakes, drivetrain and ergonomics. Competition judges posed challenging questions, ensuring qualified vehicles were approved to race. Beyond the technical challenges, students were also tasked with preparing a concept proposal to present to judges for support. This added a layer of complexity to the competition, as it challenged students to think critically and creatively about the business aspect of their work. By collaborating to develop a polished presentation, students gained valuable, real-world experience in marketing, production and sales which will undoubtedly prove invaluable in their future engineering careers.


Baja vehicle competing in the endurance event

Team Roo Racing from University of Missouri – Kansas City competing in the endurance event.

Students from the Baja SAE Oshkosh event making final adjustments to their vehicle

Students from team Sc4 Baja from St. Clair County Community College making final adjustments to their vehicle ahead of dynamic testing.

Fostering the next generation of innovators

Reflecting on the recent competition, our chief technology and strategic sourcing officer, Jay Iyengar, expressed her excitement at witnessing the exceptional talent and dedication of the participating students firsthand. Jay acknowledged the valuable contribution of Oshkosh team members and our crucial role in preparing the next generation of engineers, so they’re ready to tackle the complex challenges of tomorrow.

We’re proud to support events like the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series competition which bolsters an opportunity to identify and attract high-caliber talent to Oshkosh Corporation while providing a unique avenue for students to gain practical experience and further refine their skills ahead of their forthcoming careers.



At Oshkosh Corporation, we’re committed to the development of purpose-built vehicles that provide superior solutions to advance industries. Ready to make a difference in people’s lives? Be part of a team that designs and builds vehicles and equipment that keep people safe, handle tough jobs and build communities. As part of our People First culture, you'll be empowered to explore new and better ways to move the world forward.

Join us in shaping the future of industrial technology.


Chief technology and strategic sourcing officer, Jay Iyengar, speaking with a Baja event student

Chief technology and strategic sourcing officer, Jay Iyengar, speaking with a member of the Schulich Off Road team from University of Calgary.