CSU, Chico News

Human Powered Vehicle Excels at Western Competition

Date: 05-20-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Greg Watkins
Department of Mechanical Engineering

A mechanical engineering team from California State University, Chico, joined other teams of skilled engineering students from across the Western United States at the annual Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) Challenge at Montana State University. The competition, sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was held May 13–15. The charge to the teams was to create a fast and efficient, and in Chico’s case, utilitarian, vehicle.

Chico’s HPV brought home three trophies: First Place Speed Endurance Event, Second Place Utility Endurance Event and Third Place Male Sprint Event. The students were also acknowledged with a Team Spirit Award.

Ten mechanical engineering students—Brian Bible, Austin Petersen, Austin Young, Aaron Johnson, Daniel Lovik, Scott Heather, Chris Loera, Patrick Dills, Jeffery Dotson and Nicole Scarbrough—and one civil engineering student, Charlie Miller, attended the competition. Professor Greg Watkins, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing, advised the group and traveled to the competition with the team.

Approximately 20 members of the HPV club worked on various aspects of the design and construction of the three-wheeled, fully enclosed vehicle, but because of scheduling conflicts, were unable to attend the competition. Aaron Alexander, vice president of the HPV club, was not able to attend the competition, but received a commendation from the department for his contributions to the project.

This year’s design, said Bible, president of the HPV club, was similar to previous years in that it was rear-wheel driven and steered from the front, and it used a tadpole design with two wheels in front and one in the back.

“We learned lessons from previous years that helped us build a successful bike. Also, we had incredibly high team spirit,” said Bible. “Our bike was entered into the unrestricted class, which requires the need for a ‘utility’ bike. The idea of a utility bike is to be able to drive in all weather conditions (be fully faired), have suitable lighting, cargo storage space for groceries and be practical in an everyday setting.”

The ultimate intention of the project was to find a suitable replacement for a gas-powered car, said Bible. “The bike was built to be reliable and could be an everyday transport vehicle to your local organic store!”

“The Human Powered Vehicle design challenge offers students a hands-on design experience,” said Watkins, “where they apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world design project. This year’s team designed and built their vehicle from the ground up. They produced an outstanding bike that performed very well in the competition, outperforming designs from many better-known schools. We can all be very proud of their accomplishment.”

Members of the HPV club raised money for the project, with a Human Powered Vehicle Coffee Cart outside of O'Connell Hall on the CSU, Chico campus. Bible said that the members were proud of the fact that they raised almost all of the money to build the bike themselves. They also received some Instructionally Related Activities funding to help with other expenditures.