Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Student engineers race vehicle during Red Bull Showrun

Gabriela Passos | Photographer
A GW Baja driver celebrates in the car the student organization built.

The University’s Baja Society of Automotive Engineers team drove their handmade competition vehicle during Saturday’s Red Bull Showrun, a Formula One event taking over Pennsylvania Avenue.

The team, which is predominantly female led this year, builds a vehicle each year in the University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science building, to compete in various competitions separated by dynamic events, which test the vehicle’s drive, and static events, which test the vehicle’s design, against other universities. Team members said Showrun planners invited Society of Automotive Engineers groups from the East Coast to drive their vehicles down a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue with tens of thousands of onlookers watching the event and give a brief statement about their team.

Metropolitan Police Department officers blocked off Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets Northwest to provide a space for fan zones for viewing and a track. The Red Bull Showrun featured Formula One driver David Coulthard who won 13 Formula One Grand Prixes races. Coulthard drove the RB7 car while also performing donuts on the road.

This year’s 15-person team is composed of several engineering subteams made up of three to four people who are individually responsible for designing, manufacturing and installing various parts of the vehicle. 

“I’m really happy with how this year’s car is performing in test drives this year,” team captain and junior Anjali Vu said in a message. “We have a few powertrain inefficiencies to sort out, but our steering, 4WD system and reliability are all even better than we expected. We also are using a new engine for the first time in over a decade, so a lot of the car has been redesigned to integrate the higher horsepower.”

The team earned 64th place in the Baja SAE Rochester competition out of 88 teams and wrapped up their season clinching 27th place at Baja SAE Arizona out of 45 teams in 2022.

Vu said she and other members are responsible for manufacturing parts and building the vehicle themselves.

“I think for other women in engineering, especially seeing two female captains, and we’re doing the welding on the car, we’re doing the manufacturing in the student shop and making sure we go far,” Vu said. “It’s really important to come in with that confidence and be like, ‘Yes, I do know what I’m doing.'”

Principal engineer and junior Shelby Pullen said she aims to create a safe space for women within the team so underrepresented groups can enjoy engineering, which is male-dominated.

“I think it’s really important for me to create the space for women engineers, specifically at GW because the gender ratio is so skewed compared to other schools,” Pullen said. “This is such a great opportunity for women to get involved in motorsports and mechanical engineering that just doesn’t exist in other places.”

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet