Two Colorado State University Human-Powered Vehicles Take Honors in National Competition

For the second consecutive year, Colorado State University engineering students rode their utility class human-powered vehicle to first place at the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge held recently at the University of Nevada, Reno. The school’s single-rider vehicle also took second place in its class at the competition.

Under the instruction of Hiroshi Sakurai, associate professor of mechanical engineering, two teams of nine students each began working on the vehicles in August. The teams designed and analyzed both crafts using sophisticated computer-aided engineering programs. Students then built the vehicles, evaluated their performance, and tested them in Colorado State’s wind tunnel to analyze aerodynamic operation.

"These projects give students the opportunity to design and build vehicles from scratch while applying what they have learned at Colorado State," said Sakurai. "Students also learn important lessons that are difficult to learn in the classroom, including how to develop a new product that requires good project planning, budgeting, teamwork and communication in addition to good engineering."

Nineteen schools entered 25 vehicles in this year’s Human Powered Vehicle West-Coast Competition. The competition was sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Intended for everyday use, utility class vehicles resemble a high-tech tricycle which the rider operates from a reclined position. Colorado State’s version comes with a horn, lights, turn signals and a compartment that can hold up to a 100-pound payload. The utility vehicles competed in a design event and an endurance event over a 10 kilometer course with speed bumps, ramps, stop signs, loading and unloading of a cargo, and head-in parking. Colorado State placed first both in design and endurance, winning the utility class with a perfect 100 points.

"We planned well, had great teamwork and put in a lot of hard work all year," said utility vehicle team member and mechanical engineering senior Andrew Jauquet. "The experience taught us a lot about taking ideas from the classroom and making them work in the real world."

The utility vehicle design team gained additional acclaim from judges and colleagues due to an innovative technique they used called blowforming. Blowforming is a new means of molding acrylic sheets into complex, aerodynamic and strong shapes for the vehicle’s fairing. The challenge’s judges had not previously seen this technique used at the competition.

Single rider class human-powered vehicles are designed for speed and resemble a recumbent bicycle inside an aerodynamic shell with a single wheel in back and two steering wheels in front. The single-rider competition consisted of a design event, a 100-meter sprint and a 65-kilometer endurance event. Colorado State placed first in design, third in the sprint and sixth in endurance. After winning the single rider competition the last two years, Colorado State finished second in 2002, less than one point behind first place Montana Tech.

Colorado State’s utility team members were Andrew Jauquet, Andrew Kehl, Charles Krom, Jason Quinn, Scot Stucky, Charles Bartel, Brian Dunn, Timothy Feather and Matthew McQuarrie. Single-rider team members were Andrea Bickerton, Joel Helgerson, Brad Jacobson, Tom Young, Erin Davis, Joseph Fenske, Adam Fisher, Charles Price and Dan Wiens.

Competition information and complete results can be found on the Web at