This October, Jerrod Bouchard will attempt to become the fastest college student to be propelled by his or her own power.
Bouchard, a senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, will try to break the collegiate human-powered land speed record of 61.5 mph Oct 1-6 in Battle Mountain, Nev.
Seated in a bullet-shaped bicycle, Bouchard will be pedaling down a remote highway in Battle Mountain that is said to be one of the straightest, fastest and smoothest surfaces in the world.
Like a NASCAR driver, Bouchard is working with a talented crew to make sure his vehicle is sound. Members of the team include aerodynamics designer Andrew Sourk, a senior in aerospace engineering from St. Joseph, Mo.; team leader Craig George, a senior in electrical engineering from St. Joseph; and composite specialist Matt Brown, a senior in mechanical engineering from Rolla. Bouchard, who is from Camdenton, Mo., is the chief engineer.
Bouchard, Sourk, George and Brown are all members of UMR’s Human-Powered Vehicle Team, which won East Coast and West Coast championships in collegiate human-powered racing last spring. The Battle Mountain endeavor is a separate challenge that was born out of the larger team’s success.
Human-powered vehicles are recumbent bicycles with aerodynamic shells. All summer, the four-man UMR team has been designing and building a new vehicle for the record-breaking attempt. Recently, Bouchard and his crew took the new bike to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they tested it in a wind tunnel. They are also planning to test it at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis.
Battle Mountain has been the site of many record-breaking performances by professional, collegiate and amateur riders. The records are sanctioned by the International Human-Powered Vehicle Racing Association.
“Our forecasted performance is looking extremely optimistic,” Bouchard says, “and we are confident that we will break the current record.”