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Antique Garden Tractors Cultivated This Student’s Passion for Engineering

Ben MoningerBen Moninger grew up in Defiance, Ohio. Before attending The Ohio State University, this recent graduate restored antique garden tractors with his father—a unique hobby that sparked his dream to become an engineer.

So, when he arrived at Ohio State, he visited the Autumn Student Involvement Fair in search of an engineering project team. While wandering through the crowd of students, he spotted the Baja Buckeyes’ all-terrain vehicle parked on the Oval. He knew about the team beforehand, but when he saw the finished product, he knew that Baja was perfect for him.

Moninger soon earned the position of frame and suspension design leader on Baja Buckeyes. For this year’s competition, they focused on reducing weight across all components. Moninger said that they reduced the frame’s weight by 17 pounds alone. By fine-tuning and redesigning many of the vehicle’s components, the team achieved a total 75 pounds in weight savings.  

His favorite part of Baja, however, is the hands-on aspect.

“In many engineering professions, you don’t have the chance to build the parts that you design,” Moninger said. “On Baja, you have a handle on the whole development cycle. It’s a great challenge to be on the other side of the design phase.”

Moninger received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in May. Throughout his college career and dedication to Baja Buckeyes, Moninger held internship co-ops at Honda North America and Honda R&D Americas. His first term was with Honda North America as a test and quality engineer during summer 2017. He spent most of his time at the Transportation Research Center researching Honda’s pre-production vehicles, but he also flew to California to conduct other research.

Spring 2018 marked the beginning of his internship at Honda R&D Americas with Honda Powersports, which develops all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. He began in their chassis group and migrated to the structural frame design group, a position that aligns perfectly with his work at Baja. He joined the group full-time after returning from the latest Baja SAE Rochester competition.

Moninger said that CAR gave him valuable experience for his subsequent career at Honda R&D Americas.

“CAR is great for students,” Moninger said. “I consider CAR as an extension to the classroom; it really helped me enjoy my college experience.”

Written by Jake Berg, CAR Writing Intern