Colorado State University’s Human Powered Vehicle Takes Firsts in National Contest

A team of Colorado State University mechanical engineering students put the pedal to the medal last weekend, winning several prizes in the national Human Powered Vehicle design contest May 5-7 at California State University-Chico.

Entered in the single-rider class, Colorado State’s vehicle won the overall first-place in that category, besting 22 other entries, and won the overall design award, beating out 26 other teams. The students placed first in the design report-presentation, third in the sprint (reaching 38.4 miles per hour) and fourth in the 42-mile endurance trial.

The annual contest challenges students to design, build and operate a human-powered vehicle-in usually a variant of a bicycle or tricycle with a fairing. Colorado State’s entry was a recumbent, one-person tricycle (riders of recumbent bikes sit with their legs in front of them). With a smaller frontal area than an upright bike, the recumbent produces less drag.

Team members Brett Poor (leader), Melissa Davis, Kris Jensen, Amy Lyons, Tim Milburn, Brad Loyd, John Boes, Matt Davis, Jon Watt, Jen Erickson, Erik Snyder, Scott Gallagher, Kevan Lamm, Joel Watson, Ryan Dibble and Joshua Beno took Colorado State to its first victory in three years of competition.

"This year’s vehicle was much better engineered," said team advisor Hiroshi Sakurai, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "This resulted in a more aerodynamic fairing, which is required but is difficult to engineer; a more efficient drive train; and more stable steering."

Sakurai, a former competitive bicyclist in his native Japan, said of the students’ work, "This competition is not just about speed. It is about competing engineering, and thus the design report (the presentation on the human-powered vehicle’s engineering) is given the largest weight (in the judging)."