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Mechanical Engineering Students Place in Human Powered Vehicle Challenge

Picture of WVU's entry in the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge
WVU’s entry in the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge finished 11th overall.


A team of students from West Virginia University placed in two categories at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, held recently in Cookeville, Tennessee.

The HPVC provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate the application of sound engineering design principles in the development of sustainable and practical transportation alternatives. Students work in teams to design and build efficient, highly engineered vehicles for everyday use—from commuting to work to carrying goods to market.

There are two stages to the competition. First, the teams are judged on the preparation of a comprehensive design report. The second stage includes a demonstration of a technical innovation included in the design, a speed event (either 100 meter flying start time trial or head-to-head drag race) and a 2.5 hour endurance race held over the course of a weekend.

The 10-student team from WVU competed in the competition as part of their senior capstone course. Their recumbent tricycle featured a uniquely designed in-situ structural health monitoring system, which calculated, saved and displayed the real-time stresses and strains present in the tricycles’ frame during the competition.

“We placed fourth in the innovation challenge due to our health monitoring system,” said Domenic Cipollone, a mechanical engineering major from Elkview and HPVC team leader. “This system is important because it provides a way to accurately measure and model low-cycle fatigue, a major failure mechanism in bicycles and HPVs.”

The students placed 11th overall in the HPVC against teams from around the world.

“Participating in the competition was a tremendous learning opportunity for our team,” said Cipollone. “We were able to exercise what we had learned in the classroom and gain valuable hands-on experience. We worked hard all year and had to overcome several challenges so we were thrilled to place in the competition.”

Next year the team plans to focus on improving its overall design in hopes of placing first in the innovation challenge and cracking the top 10 overall.



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