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Mechanical engineering students take third place for third year at human powered vehicle competition

Elisabeth Weems | Apr 23, 2018
HPVC 2018
Photos by Jacob Brausch

Mechanical engineering students take third place for third year at human powered vehicle competition

Elisabeth Weems | Apr 23, 2018

Photos by Jacob Brausch

Ohio University’s team proved good things come in threes at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 2018 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) East Competition earlier this month, with a third-place finish for the third consecutive year and a win for sportsmanship.

“Team Scorpion” competed alongside 45 student teams from April 13-15 at Penn State University in design and safety tests, drag races, and a two-and-a-half-hour endurance races among two-, three- and four-wheeled human-powered vehicles.

Drag races focused on speed, while the endurance race challenged competitors with a relay race complete with hills, turns and obstacles like speed bumps and rumble strips. OHIO’s 14 team members brought home six awards total: the sportsmanship award; third place in design, endurance and women’s drag race events; and fourth in men’s drag races and thirteenth in innovation.

Nathaniel McNees, a Russ College mechanical engineering sophomore and Team Scorpion’s leader, said changing the vehicle’s design from tricycle to bicycle led to major improvements in both speed and weight.

“As a group, we spent more than 1,300 hours on this project between meetings, design and manufacturing,” McNees said. “We went away from the three-wheeled design of years past and created a medium height recumbent bicycle this year, which led to improvements in a record top speed of 40 mph, and our vehicle frame weight reaching an all-time low.”

Mechanical engineering graduate student Jane Oberhauser said the design changes will elicit even more improvements in the future.

“There was a steep learning curve for riding the endurance course and how to take off in the drag race – it’s exciting because there are so many things we can make better next year,” Oberhauser said. “We earned third with room to grow, and there are a lot of motivated individuals who can take us to that first place spot next year”

Russ College Technician Joey Boyle has assisted the HPVC team with design and construction for the last three competitions.

“Watching the students teach each other how to use the tools in my shop is the most rewarding,” Boyle said.

While 14 members traveled to compete, about 25 students worked on the bike throughout the year, which highlighted the importance of teamwork, said mechanical engineering junior Robert Orszycki.

“The greatest lesson I took from this experience is that it takes teamwork to be successful,” Orszycki said. “One person alone cannot accomplish what our organization has done this year.”

Colleen Carow and Anna Hartenbach contributed to this story.