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Human-powered vehicle student team blows past the competition to win first

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Apr 12, 2019
HPVC 2019

Human-powered vehicle student team blows past the competition to win first

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Apr 12, 2019

Student engineers outpaced almost 50 other university teams including Harvard University and Michigan State University at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 2019 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) North E-Fest on April 5-7 in East Lansing Michigan, earning first place overall and in design.

Team “Lynx” also placed second in women’s speed racing, third in men’s speed racing, and third in endurance -- an improvement over last year, when they won honors for sportsmanship and placed third overall for the third consecutive year. Safety checks, a variety of races and endurance challenges, and design all factor into the final score as part of the competition.

“The competition was a true test of the vehicle design and rider fitness,” said team lead and mechanical engineering senior Tanner Wick. “Lynx's design team played a crucial role in repairing the vehicle during the endurance race. The riders, who trained with OHIO's Exercise Physiology Club, had extraordinary performances in all speed events,” he added.

Months of planning go into the construction of the vehicle. Design begins at the start of the year and lasts until November, with construction starting soon after. A total of 18 student members from academic programs across the Russ College’s programs collaborates on the design, as well as building and operating the vehicles.

Marie Camp, a senior studying mechanical engineering, emphasized that the project tests develops across a wide variety of team member capabilities. Some students excel in the design of the bike, others are better at building the bike, and others are best at riding and competing in the physical aspect of the competition, she noted.

“It’s a team effort,” Camp said. “It builds character. There’s a role for you on the team.”

Russ College Technician Joey Boyle supported the build and emphasized the students’ dedication.

“I basically just show them how to use the tools. We just work it out step by step,” he said. “The long hours they spend working in the machine shop, designing their vehicle and competing are all ‘extra’ hours. It’s their hard work that makes it happen,” he added.

Camp, a senior, said that her experience with the human powered vehicle team has shaped her experience at Ohio University, from creating friendships to helping her in classes.

“I’ve connected with a lot of engineers, and I’ve made pretty great lifelong friends,” Camp said.

Each year’s progress feeds into the next: Senior Tanner Wick explained the team’s steady improvement, having placed third in the competition for three years in a row before taking top honors this year.

“The project gave students an excellent opportunity to practice engineering skills and apply them in an exciting way,” Wick said. “I’m looking forward to the team's future successes.” 

Marissa McDaid contributed to this story.