EL PASO, Texas A hundred teams are ready to start their engines as the Baja SAE Competition returns to the rough desert terrain at the University of Texas at El Paso.

We want to set the bar high and let them build something rugged, said Adrian Lopez, a UTEP mechanical engineering student.

Lopez helped SAE design the track and expects 70 percent of the off road vehicles won t finish the race. This year rather than man-made, the 1.3 mile course is all natural terrain.

I expect a lot of flat tires, said Lopez.

The Society of Automotive Engineers holds the annual competition to simulate real world engineering projects that put student ideas to the test.

This program offers hands-on opportunities for universities and engineering colleges all over the world to develop and design and build a small off-road Baja vehicle that will take the punishment we re going to give them over the next two days, said Sam Barill, Baja program manager.

Students have traveled from near and far for the competition, which culminates with a four-hour endurance race in which vehicles have to maneuver a variety of obstacles.

That s the ultimate test. Nothing has to break for four continuous hours, said Sai Vaishnave, a student on a team from India.

If anything snaps you re out of the race, said Vaishnave as he and other students worked to fix a problem with their vehicle.

Nearby a team from Chihuahua, Mexico was also doing some last minute repairs, but remained in high spirits.

We re expecting first place, said Jorge Martinez, smiling and holding up his index finger for number one.

While some of the young men are full of confidence, engineering schools have a harder time getting women to compete.

They think it s a guy sport. Really it s everyone s sport, said Alisha Bragg, a master s candidate in engineering at the University of Louisville.

She s one of the few women on a team. All are excited about the chance to test their vehicles.

She s one of the few women on a team. All are excited about the chance to test their vehicles.

We re here to complete, just have good time and learn something, said Laura Winn, a cadet from the United States Military Academy at West Point. If we can learn something, I d say it s a success.

Her teammates are also eager to get their off road vehicle on the track.

After all these hours in class it s good to actually get a chance to put something together, make it applicable and then try it out, said TJ Rowe, another West Point cadet. I think it s an awesome experience.

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