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05-27-2004

Clarkson Students Pedal To A Top-place Finish In Human Powered Vehicle Competition

Clarkson University's Human Powered Vehicle Team peddled their uniquely designed three-wheel vehicle to a third-place finish at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' (ASME) Human Powered Vehicle Challenge Eastern competition held earlier this month in Gainesville, Fla.

The team was comprised of a core group of six senior mechanical engineering students along with several underclassmen and graduate students. Clarkson University Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Jeffrey A. Taylor acted as the team's faculty advisor.

The Clarkson team was entered in the single rider category and was evaluated in three areas: design, sprint and endurance, said Taylor. "The design score is based on a written report and an oral presentation. The other two categories are performance tests. Clarkson finished fourth in design, second in the 100-meter sprint race, and fifth in the 60-kilometer endurance race.

During the endurance competition, the Clarkson and University of Missouri at Rolla teams were at least a lap ahead of the field, and Clarkson had a significant lead when senior Sara Grimaldi pulled into the pits, explained Taylor. "Senior Adam Farver climbed into the vehicle for the second leg of the endurance race. But after Adam completed the first lap the vehicle experienced a flat tire. The team repaired the flat but was unable to make up the lost time. Still, it was a great competition and our students finished in third place overall."

The Clarkson team's vehicle featured a "reverse tricycle" design with two front wheels for steering and a single rear wheel that provided propulsion for the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle sat in a reclined seat and used a drive train set up of bicycle pedals for power along with 35 gearing choices to give the vehicle an average cruising speed of around 35-miles per hour, with top speeds expected to be near 50-miles per hour. The vehicle also features an all-wheel braking system that uses hydraulic disc brakes on the front wheels with an emergency drum brake integrated into the rear wheel.

To accomplish design goals and make the vehicle competitive, the team used lightweight, high-performance bicycle components in the drive train and constructed the frame from aircraft-grade aluminum.

Clarkson University's Human Powered Vehicle Team is part of the award-winning Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design (SPEED) program that promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 250 undergraduates annually. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communication skills.

The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives promoting the "Vision of a Clarkson Education" through experiential learning by hands-on application of academic theory to real-world problems. SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund, and Procter & Gamble, and was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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