Introducing our 2020-2021 Leadership!

We’re so excited to finally announce the amazing members of our team who will be leading the 2021 season. Read on to hear a little bit more about their experience on Baja and what they’re hoping to achieve this year.


Captain: Jack O’Donnell

Jack is currently a junior in mechanical engineering. He spent 2 years on the suspension sub-team, where he designed the a-arm jig for Roamer and the STA for Pollock, before becoming chassis lead this year. Outside of Baja, he interned at John Crane after freshman year, TechnipFMC after sophomore year, and will be interning in manufacturing at HP this summer. As captain, he’s most excited to lead the team in the transition from 2 wheel to 4 wheel drive. He thinks it’ll be fun to tackle all the new challenges that come with the change and can’t imagine a better team to take it on with.


Chief Engineer: Adam Stephens

Adam joined the team as a sophomore on drivetrain working on CVT cooling and quickly rose to drivetrain lead this year. As a mechanical engineering major, he interned and co-oped at Caterpillar through the school year. The high responsibility of being a sub-team lead means he spends “literally all [his] time” on Baja, but when he does get free time he likes to watch youtube videos. Like Jack, he can’t wait for the blank slate that 4 wheel drive brings next year and is excited to take on the challenge with great leadership partners.


President: Katie Peters

Katie also joined the team as a sophomore on drivetrain and acted as treasurer this year. She has mainly worked on brakes and is excited to continue that by designing custom calipers next year. She also co-ops at Caterpillar and has been for two years, although she will be switching gears and interning at Boeing this coming summer. Outside of Baja, she was the chair of recruitment for SWE for 2 years, plays intramural  soccer, and enjoys CRU, an on-campus ministry. She is also excited for 4 wheel drive and drive day, where she will get to show off Jill and meet up with old alumni.

Treasurer: Caleb Trotter

Caleb is a junior in mechanical engineering who has spent the past 3 years on suspension. He headed up the part validation project for Pollock last year and designed the anti-roll bar for Jill this year. Outside of Baja, he works as a tutor for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, is a TAM course assistant for the MechSE department, and an undergrad research assistant at the Materials Research Lab. In his free time, he weight lifts, bakes, cooks, hikes, longboards, and is hoping to get into snowboarding. He’s excited to be treasurer because it’ll give him an even closer look at how the Baja team really works. He loves the technical knowledge he’s learned on the team and thinks it’ll be really cool to see more of the business side of things.

Safety Officer: Jen Leong

Jen is a sophomore mechanical engineer who has been on suspension and manufacturing for 2 years. She worked on finding the center of gravity and points validation of Roamer, and designed Jill’s lower a-arm. She is trained on the mill and lathe and is known as the profiling lead. Outside of Baja, she likes to fence and knit (she has knitted Pollock’s chassis and is working on adding drivetrain and suspension). As safety officer, she is excited to have more say in the safety tooling we buy, more specifically she wants to buy face masks to make profiling safer.

Outreach Director: Maddie Yang

Maddie is a freshman in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. She spent this year on the chassis sub-team and worked with composites, helping do the wet layups of the body panels. On campus, she works for the MechSE communications department to write articles for the MechSE website (and actually wrote a brief one on Winter Baja!) and also participates in the Asian American Association (AAA). She’s excited to welcome new members to the team as outreach director and show everyone how cool Baja is!


Sub-team Leads

Chassis Lead: Sam Dillon

Sam is a sophomore in chemical engineering. He currently acts as outreach director and is also on the drivetrain and business sub-teams, where he’s worked on the CVT case and tuning. As a chemE, he does research in a lab focused on new methods of producing biofuels. He’s excited to be chassis lead and translate all that he’s learned on drivetrain packaging wise, especially with the switch to 4WD.

Drivetrain Lead: Esmée Vernooij

Esmée is a sophomore in mechanical engineering with a minor in the Hoeft Technology and Management program. She has been on suspension the past 2 years, performing a shock-force isolation project and designing the 2020 front uprights. She is currently co-oping at Volvo Trucks but during the school year is involved in SWE and does research with Prof. Liebenberg on engineering education. She’s excited to head up a new sub-team and can’t wait to learn all about the drivetrain components.

Suspension Lead: Saabir Mallick

Saab has been on suspension for 2 years where he designed jigs for the STA as well as steering. He also experimented with strain gauges on the electronics sub-team. Outside of Baja, he is part of the Muslim Students Association and also enjoys boxing when he gets time. He’s excited to get to learn how all the suspension components work together and gain a deeper understanding of parts he is less familiar with. And, most of all, get to design and build a completely new car.

Electronics and Testing Lead: Aleks Konstantinovic

Aleks is a junior mechanical engineering major who has spent the past 3 years on suspension, including acting as lead this year. He has interned at Tishma Technologies and Caterpillar, and will be working at Ford this coming summer. Outside of Baja he is also in Sigma Nu fraternity. He has worked on many different projects with suspension but two of his favorites are working with data acquisition, and redesigning Jill’s bent upper a-arms. The new a-arms required using the tube bender, performing proof of concept runs, modifying the current jig, and new FEA. He enjoyed how quickly the team came together to fix the problem and took advantage of all the resources available to them. He’s excited to be electronics lead and can’t wait to use the new data acquisition equipment we have available.

Business Lead: Josh Bowen

Josh is a junior in mechanical engineering who has previously been on suspension, doing a lot of profiling and steering slop analysis. He interned at Eaton in Michigan this past summer, and will be with the company again this summer in the electrical car division in Oregon. Outside of Baja he loves playing ultimate frisbee. He’s excited to take on the challenge of business lead and is hoping to organize a sponsor drive day.



Welding Lead: Cassie Kim

Cassie has also been on suspension for the past two years and was safety officer last year. She worked on Roamer and Jill’s steering slop, and designed Jill’s rear uprights. She interned at Atlas engineering group this past summer and will be interning at Ebco in summer 2020. Outside of Baja she is on the Illinois women’s rugby team. She’s excited to be welding lead and help others become better welders. Learning to TIG weld can be daunting and sometimes even frustrating due to the coordination needed to steadily control both hands and one foot, which are all doing different things. However, it’s an extremely rewarding and humbling art at the same time and she is eager to guide new welders through the ups and inevitable downs. She loves the sense of accomplishment she gets from welding for the team and wants to pass that on.

Water-jet Lead: Cesar Lopez

Cesar is a junior in mechanical engineering who was on the suspension sub-team this year. He investigated steering slop in Pollock and tire pressure testing. Outside of Baja, he will be interning at Aux Sable this coming summer. He’s excited to gain more experience using the water-jet, learning time management, and delegating responsibilities to fellow members.

Machining Lead: Danielle Helms

Danielle is a junior who has spent 2 years on drivetrain. She designed Pollock’s brake rotors and Jill’s pedal-box, as well as machined most of the components for it. Outside of Baja, she is a parallel co-op at Caterpillar and is a tech in the Innovation Studio. She is trained on the lathe and mill and is currently one of a few select people learning how to use the Haas CNC. She’s excited to be machining lead so that she can help teach underclassmen how to make cool parts.