Colorado State Students Take First Place in Human-Powered Vehicle Utility Competition

Note to Editors: Photos of the vehicle are available with the news release at

Colorado State University’s mechanical engineering team has placed first in the Human Powered Vehicle utility competition for the third year in a row.

Human Powered Vehicles are aerodynamic, highly engineered "super bikes" that may be used on land, in the water or in the air. Some land-based vehicles have achieved speeds of more than 60 mph. The April competition, sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, encourages students to design a vehicle that can be used for everyday activities such as commuting to and from work and going to the grocery store.

The event, at the University of Nevada-Reno, consisted of a single-rider competition, a multi-rider competition and a utility competition that evaluates vehicles designed for everyday use. The vehicles are judged on design, safety and performance in an obstacle course.

The seven-member CSU team designed the project for their senior capstone course. The students designed the entire vehicle, down to hand-sewing the cargo bags on the back of the vehicle.

"A mechanical engineering major gives you a lot more hands-on experience than other majors," said Caleb Dean, a team member. "It’s rewarding to see the project through from design to fabrication."

The obstacle course included a hairpin turn, a slalom with road cones and several speed bumps. In the competition, the Colorado State vehicle gained speeds up to 30 mph and placed first in the utility competition. The second-place vehicle came in 15 minutes behind. The CSU team also placed second overall.  

"We reduced the weight by using less metal and simplified the steering mechanism so it’s easy to manufacture and mass produce," said Aaron Vaughn, a mechanical engineering and Spanish double major.

Other members of the senior mechanical engineering team are Scott Brewer, Cole Emerson, Erin Dorociak, Judd Nutting, Steve Verderaime and Kyle Frerichs.