The second time was a charm for UMR engineering students hoping to claim a share of the national championship in the annual Human-Powered Vehicle Competition (HPVC), held May 7-9 at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
After finishing seventh in the West Coast HPVC in April, the UMR Human-Powered Vehicle Team finished first in the East Coast competition in Gainesville, giving the team its third national championship in a row.
UMR finished first among 13 teams in the single-rider competition and won three of the four events — male sprint, female sprint, and design review and presentation. The team finished third in the endurance race but had the best overall record of all the teams.
The events, sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, involves teams from colleges and universities throughout the United States. The teams design and construct human-powered "superbikes" for the competition.
At the West Coast competition, held at Oregon State University in April, UMR’s vehicle sported a new and innovative look. "We put in a camera and LCD system," says Jerrod Bouchard, president of UMR’s HPV team and a junior in mechanical engineering. "We got the idea from the World Speed Challenge, which is where the professionals race the HPVs that get up to 82 mph." The camera system allows the rider to lie down, reducing the height and frontal area needed for the vehicle. In tests prior to the event, UMR’s vehicle has reached speeds as high as 50 mph.
But the system didn’t work as well as planned, and the vehicle hit an obstacle during that race. So the team modified the car for the East Coast event, installing a windshield as a backup for the camera and LCD system. "The camera was used and worked great for the East Coast Competition," Bouchard says.
Last year, the UMR team took first place in the competition, held on the home turf of Rolla. In 2002, the team won its first national title in the East Coast competition in Blacksburg, Va..