Alumnus lays foundation for Baja SAE team

September 13, 2022

Alex Petrarca stands in front of a Quinnipiac truck at the intercollegiate design competition with the BAJA team.

From Lego aficionado to mechanical engineer — Alex Petrarca's ’21 childhood passion helped shape him into the professional engineer he is today. 

Petrarca was frequently engulfed in his father's production of boats and cars. He would use Legos to mimic his father's work and became highly interested in engineering and design. Inspired by his father, Petrarca started taking engineering classes at his high school, which led him to continue his studies in Quinnipiac's School of Computing and Engineering.

"There's nothing that can compare to creating something with your own hands,” said Petrarca. “The feeling of seeing a concept in your mind and then bringing it to life; there's a power in that."

After catching word about a competition for engineering students to make off-roading cars, he was intrigued. Reminded of his early life of working on cars and boats with her father, he decided to assemble a team of Quinnipiac students to enter the race known as Baja Society of Automated Engineers International (SAE).

The support he and his team got from the university helped make their dream a reality, he said.

"Quinnipiac invested in us, giving us the tools, garage space and education that we needed to reach our goal,” said Petrarca.

As COVID-19 arose, a disappointing halt in the Baja car building process occurred for Petrarca and his teammates. The Baja project was sadly unable to be completed, but Petrarca's journey along the way still impacts him today as he works as a design engineer at Lockheed Martin in the Aerospace program.

"While I'm no longer leading the Baja team at Quinnipiac, I still feel very much connected,” he said. “All the blood, sweat and tears that went into this car and seeing it compete for the first time is something I wouldn't miss for the world. No matter how we do in the race, we've been successful and I hope that other Quinnipiac students are able to build upon the legacy that we started.”

Video: Alex's story

Alex Unleashed

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