Human Powered Vehicle Team To Be A Little Chilly

It’s a balmy 73 degrees this morning in the Atlanta area, but up in western Pennsylvania it’s only gonna squeak past 50. Why do we care?
The S&T HPV has their redesigned bike at Grove City College, where they are going through tech (sound familiar?) inspection before racing tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s racing weather? Mid 40s, rain, and a little wind. Oughta make our South American friends a little uncomfortable.

No Better Life Lesson!

Design team students learn a lot about “real life” in the process of competing in open-ended challenges. Dealing with other people, sharing your technical and personal skills, and learning from others as well.
Here’s a lesson that comes from the very wisest of those who walk this earth……….
A few months back S&T’s Human Powered Vehicle Team approached a potential sponsor for donation of a very specific and expensive product used to make plugs to shape body panels. The students were disappointed when the firm opted not to donate the requested amount, but stunned when the firm, Coastal Enterprises, instead tripled the amount of donated material, nearly $35,000 worth!!
There was a catch, however, because the firm’s president added a mandatory, yet legally unenforceable stipulation to the gift. This clause came to us after the team sent him a nice thank-you note.
Why don’t we let Chuck Miller of Coastal Enterprises, explain himself?
Please read on:
“Glad to see your team is excited. I think that is half the fun of any project.”
“Please know that there is a condition that comes with this donation, and that each team member must meet. It is a mandatory condition that comes with all Coastal donations.”
“The condition is that when ever they are in a situation to help someone that they must do whatever they can to help them.”
“No one ever does everything all by themselves and we all need help at different times of our lives. I know I never could have started this business and kept it operational over the years without help from all kinds of people. Now’s my time to give back. Soon it will be yours.”
“Coastal Enterprises is very happy to be a part of your support group. Let me know if we can help any time during your project.”
Chuck Miller

This gift will not only cover the HPV Team for years to come, but there’s enough bounty so that other S&T design teams can improve their manufacturing processes, and be even better prepared for their careers. And frankly, to be in a better position to fulfill this “legally unenforceable”, yet highly moral and ethical, obligation.
We are in awe!
Thank you SO much, Chuck! Not so much for the material, but for a lesson far more valuable!

Despite Chinook Winds, Injuries, And Short Circuits, Miners Claim 2nd Place

40+ mph winds blasting down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains made life difficult for the ASME-sponsored Human Powered Vehicle Competition West event over the weekend.
Team trainer Jonathan Sanders called it a “very challenging weekend”
“Saturday morning’s temperature was 40 degrees with wind gusts up to 30 mph. The sprint runs were delayed an hour because the required ambulance was late arriving, so everybody lost an hour of possible faster runs. Tracy Mallette went first with 32 mph and felt she could get a higher speed so we installed bigger chain ring and put Tracy in for another run. Unfortunately she unclipped her shoe 100 meters from the start and failed to improve her speed score. I went next and hit a disappointing 42 mph but I didn’t know at the time that the sprint course was noticeably shorter than East coast, so I went again and got an official top speed of 45 mph giving S&T first place for the male sprints with. Rose Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) took 2nd in the female sprints, nipping Tracy by only .5 mph. By the time sprints were over everyone pretty much resembled a popsicle; frozen solid.”
“In the design event our score inexplicably dropped to 89 from a record-setting 106 at HPVC East, so we ended up taking second in design.”
“Tracy re-injured her ankle in the utility race but still managed to complete her required three laps despite the wind which was now gusting even higher!. At that point we were down by two laps (nothing serious), so I got in and got us in first place with a one-lap lead. During my second lap our landing gear systems short circuited so we had to start and stop by foot. A few laps after Evan got in the bike our titanium fork shattered in three pieces in the slalom but we managed to swap it for the show bike’s steel fork in just four minutes, and Evan was back on the bike. Trevor Lauer (younger brother to former team leader Trent Lauer) took over to finish the race, and after a wreck-filled first lap and some impressive road rash, he was handling the bike very well and pulling some pretty strong laps. I was very impressed with Trevor’s effort and quick learning curve since he has only been riding these bikes for a very short time. He’s a got a good competitive attitude as a rider and will be a great asset next year.”HPV11BESTIMG_4278blog.jpg
“Due to all these set-backs, we finished the race in 5th out of both classes, fourth in the utility class I believe, and RHIT had a commanding overall lead.”
“Saturday night a few of us stayed up to repair the bike, but we couldn’t repair the landing gear the electrical systems were toast so that meant no landing gear for Sunday.”
“The next day’s weather was even worse. Still cold, with gusts reaching nearly 50 mph! We decided to run people without canopy so that crosswinds were less likely to flip the bike. Plus, with no working landing gear, we had to use our feet to start and stop anyway.”
“Tracy started the race but unclipped her shoe again after two strokes into the race. Since it was her bad ankle had to stop. Her shoes were removed and she road barefoot until her regular shoes could be brought to her later in the course. Unfortunately it was not to be. After crashing many times, Tracy hurt her ankle again and couldn’t finish her lap so Trevor took over. In his first lap a gust of wind blew Titan sideways into a curve and bent the steel fork back forty-five degrees. HPVforksMG_4304.jpgWe were now out of forks but in a quick 30-second brainstorm, we decided to pull the fork off the Fly-By trainer and adapt it to work with this year’s bike (Andrew Sourk would be so happy!). It worked. The bike gods were with us today! We now had a bike made of three different bikes, which we appropriately named “Frankenbike“. The whole fork incident took about fifteen to twenty minutes. We were now in last place with zero laps with roughly 45 minutes to an hour gone from the race. Trevor got back in the bike a finished a very strong six laps without incident before wanting to change to the next rider. He put us into second to last place with six laps but gained us some very important ground. I got in after him and finished all thirteen laps and moved us into roughly seventh or eighth place overall, then Tim Mallette jumped in to finish the race. Tim was slower than our other riders but finished the race with only a few wrecks. We managed to take fifth overall in the race (tying Rose Hulman in laps but finishing behind them on the final lap) and fourth in the utility class.”
“I would like to note that racing today was comparable to racing in a hurricane. Many teams (even unfaired ones) were repeatedly blown over by the wind and on the hill some riders had to get out and push their bikes because they couldn’t make any progress against the headwinds. The winds were actually twice as bad as last year’s brutal East Coast races!”
“At the awards banquet (note: always well-attended because the amount of food provided) we won the Knovel innovation award again. Overall we took second place behind Rose Hulman by just six points. Close, but still no banana. We met a lot of cool and friendly teams. Particularly those from University of Nevada – Reno, ITT Bombay (India), and a California community college team who stayed across the hall from us in the hotel.”
“It’s a miracle that we even finished the race after destroying two forks, but the main thing is we already have lots of fresh ideas of how to do things better next year.”
Final standings: 2nd place overall
2nd in female sprints, 1st in male sprints, 4th in speed endurance, 5th in utility endurance and 2nd in design.

Classes May Be Done, But The Competition Season Is Far From Over

Only ten days after returning from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Titan and its Miner designers, builders, and riders headed to the high country of Bozeman, Montana to defend their ASME-West Human Powered Vehicle Competition (HPVC) title.
They barely had time to finish final exams, move out of dorms/attics/cars/apartments, attend graduation (the lucky ones), do laundry, and repair their once-sparkling recumbent bike that wowed the crowd in Indy. Not necessarily in that order.
Enroute to Bozeman the team got a real education about the forces of nature. Driving through Nebraska up into the Dakotas, they got an up-front view of the devastating floods of 2011. They also got to spend Thursday night at the South Dakota home of team leader Seth Rummel’s parents, which was a whole lot better than the usual “sleep-in-the-back-of-the-truck-at-a rest-stop” routine from years past.
Team trainer Jonathan Sanders picks up the story from there………..
Same Old, Same Old; and Some New
“Missouri S&T definitely made a clear impression at last year’s ASME HPVC West. As the team arrived “fashionably late” other teams began to move towards the Missouri S&T trailer for the unveiling of this year’s design. Once we rolled out Titan, engineering students from multiple schools began to circle, with lots of questions about the bike. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to chat since we still had to make final tweaks on the electrical and landing gear systems. After the brief HPVBozemanIMG_4067.jpgshowcase session and some friendly interaction with other teams, we began safety inspection. But no competition is complete without a wrench thrown in the spokes somewhere along the way. In the end-of-semester rush we forgot our bike bell and part of our anti-theft device (both are required for the unrestricted class). The understanding panel of judges knew the trials the bike had gone through at Indy so we passed visual inspection and moved on to rider safety tests. I managed to pass rider safety despite having the canopy falling onto my knees in a turn, so we could return Titan to its showcase role.”
“S&T’s 2010 “Batmobile” (as other teams called Siren) definitely left its mark, as there was a noticeable increase in the percentage of two-wheeled recumbents and an increased focus on aerodynamic fairings this year. Tomorrow (Saturday) our crew’ll compete in the sprint and the utility endurance events, along with sixteen teams including Cal State-Chico, Rose Hulman, and international teams from India and Egypt.”
We’ll report today’s results as soon as Jon and the crew gathers their wits and phone in the results.

Miners Shatter Design Score Ceiling, Take 2nd Place

S&T’s Human Powered Vehicle Team fought a close race with a powerful squad (and a great bike) from the University of Toronto, which eked out a two-point victory over the Miners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
S&T jumped out to a big lead with an unheard-of 106 points in the design category, the most important portion of the overall score. To give you an idea of how significant that count is, only three teams scored in the 90s and the rest trailed well behind. One team even asked the Miners for a copy of their design report as a model (gold standard?) to emulate. ASME judges also recognized the Miners’ sophisticated landing gear and HPVDSC_0365.jpg canopy systems, awarding S&T the highest design score in memory. The team also nabbed event-sponsor Knovel’s innovation award.
The Miners took 1st in male sprints and 2nd in the female category, with Toronto grabbing 2nd and 1st respectively, leaving the two friendly teams tied in the sprints. The chaotic endurance races were another situation as Toronto had a reliable rocket of a bike and very strong riders.
Early in the sprint races Tracy Mallete suffered a bad ankle sprain leaving her hobbled through the utility and speed endurance races against a very tough Toronto female. Adam Janowski, Jonathan Sanders, and Evan Kluesner had to work hard just to keep pace with the compact #5 bike, which literally ran away with the wet and sloppy weekend’s final event. Their dominance in the endurance race turned S&T’s nine-point design advantage into a 2.2-point deficit, knocking the Miners out of national championship contention.
The team has a chance to regain some of that glory at the ASME HPVC West. Titan’s paint is pretty badly scratched up (normal for these events) and the mechanical systems could use some work, but they’ll be ready for Bozeman, Montana in just two weeks.
Three other design teams were on the road this weekend, and as soon as they call/text/twit their stories in we’ll get the details to you.

Life On The Road

A word of advice………………
If you plan to stay up late filing stories about S&T design teams, don’t hang out with a friendly and enthusiastic group of local Miner alumni.
Last night S&T alums joined students of the Human Powered Vehicle team, some of their families, and SDELC director Roger LaBoube and his wife Karen for a great dinner in downtown Indianapolis. Stories about “back when we were on campus” covered the gamut from Alex’s Pizza, St Pat’s, The Grotto’s burritos (and other products), St Pat’s, favorite (and some not-so-favorited) professors, St Pat’s, Johnny’s Smokestack, the odor of St Pat’s board members’ jackets, and any number of stunts students pulled back then.
Great stories all, but it was especially fun to watch the spouse (who’s never been to Rolla) of a Miner solar car alum, grow increasingly more concerned about the “great times we had during St Pat’s” as told by other young alums.
We can only imagine the conversation in the car on the way home…………….
“You did WHAT?? You never told me about any of those things!”
Ahhh, it’s great to be a Miner! 🙂

How To Make A Stunning Entrance

If you want to rattle the competition, perhaps you should take lessons from the S&T Human Powered Vehicle Team who did the following:HPVBlogSUN_8692.jpg
1. Be the defending national champions in ASME speed-class competition
2. Keep your bike plans under tight wraps
3. Plant April Fool’s stories on the web about designing a unicumbent unicycle, complete with CAD drawings and fictitious mechanical designs.
HPVBlogDSC_9395.jpg4. Arrive stylishly late*, the last team of the day to register
5. Leave your heretofore secret bike inside your dark trailer until most teams have moved to the group photo staging area.
6. Roll your beautifully-designed and -built “Titan” into the center of the group
7. Discreetly engage your electrically-controlled landing gear hidden behind small body panels
8. Watch the rest of the place turn into a ghost town as slack-jawed engineering students from all over North and South America swarm over your bike uttering “WOW”, “AMAZING” and every other printable platitude you can think of.
And then join all the other teams on the track to celebrate the centennial of the Indianapolis 500 race.
Early tomorrow they’ll start off with double-elimination drag races, followed by the utility challenge in the afternoon. Sunday is the endurance race.
Stay tuned, There will be crashes.
*Stylishly late means the Miners missed several interstate turns en route to Indianapolis from Rolla.

Area 51 Spills Forth Its Secrets

HPV TitanDSC_9258.jpg
Meet Titan, the Miners’ entry into the ASME-sponsored Human Powered Vehicle Competition.
S&T has long dominated the speed class events, but now they’re returning to the competition’s goal of developing a practical transportation tool for developing countries.
Titan, so named because the team built its chassis from titanium, will go fast, but has a practical side akin to dropping a racing engine in on old station wagon. The vehicle will race in the unlimited events where it has to tackle drag races, a brutal endurance race, and when it cools off, goes to get the groceries.
Consistent with a policy of adding new problems to solve each year, the 2011 event requires teams to devise a machine the driver can start and stop alone. No starting crew, no bowling-for-humans pit crew, no falling over (hopefully) when they stop at a light. Miners have added some practical features such as headlights, a forward-swinging canopy, more robust body panels, and even retractable landing gear worthy of a carrier-based fighter jet. And did we forget to list a driver-selectable reverse gear? Has that even been done before on pedal-powered rigs?
The students leave early tomorrow for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s where the HPVC event, part of the Brickyard’s salute to the Indy 500’s centennial, will be held.
Last night the team added sponsor signs, the S&T logo, and a few other finishing touches before they undertake the obligatory team photo with the finished product. We’ll post that image tomorrow night from Indy.
n.b. This event is open to the public free of charge. C’mon out and watch! We promise you won’t need earplugs used at left-turn-only races.
HPV TitanDSC_9273.jpg

Human Powered Vehicle Team Practices In Inhuman Conditions

HPV2SUN_8460.jpgNot to sound like a broken record*, but the weather has not been our friend this spring.
S&T’s Human Powered Vehicle team continues to hold their evening “ride-offs” to see which riders will cruise the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. Last night they were pretty miserable riding in a very cold rain, but that’s the price of being a top-tier team. One rider wore a poncho that filled with so much water that he struggled to get out of the bike. Another rider ended up with water sloshing around inside the bike’s fairing (ed. this photo is from an earlier test). Word is that they raced past dark until lightning drove them in.
The way things are going, the Miners may be seeing more of that weather in Indianapolis this weekend. Sunday’s forecast for the all-important endurance race calls (surprise!) thunderstorms. Just like last year’s event in Connecticut.
*You might wonder if this generation even knows what “a broken record” means. Oddly enough the younger crowd is finding out on their own. Sales of vinyl LP records are up, students are pulling their parents’ old turntables out of the basement and hunting for good used records, and even the warehouse electronics chains are stocking 33rpm discs.
Why? Many claim that for all their faults, analog LPs sound better than CDs. Must be something to that claim, as sales of the little silver “Perfect Sound Forever” discs (as they were hailed back in the 80’s) are in the dumper. Wonder if that’s related to the nationwide decline in skeet shooting?
So yes, despite the fact that the term probably harkens back to the 78rpm era between the world wars, they are learning the meaning of “a broken record.”
Thus endeth today’s technology sermon.

If You’re Going To Race At The Brickyard, Bring Your Best Technology!

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally built as a testing ground for the best automotive technology of the early 1900s, and now the Miners are going to carry that philosophy well into the 21st century.
Uni_rider_sans_fairing.jpgYou’ve seen S&T students build racing vehicles of concrete and the 2-, 3-, and 4-wheeled variety, and now the aspiring engineers of the Miners’ Human Powered Vehicle Competition (HPVC) Team are taking their pursuit of low drag and low rolling resistance to the extreme. The defending speed-class national champions have devised a radical design (see preliminary CAD drawings at left) they’ll race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this month. They are building and testing the new vehicle in relative secrecy, because their goal is to stun the competition by unveiling their completed new design at the ASME-sponsored competition.
Their goal is near-perfect efficiency; cutting parts count and weight, reducing the drive train resistance to the absolute minimum, and taking advantage of the team’s aerodynamic experience to developwhat many would consider impossible:
a fully-faired recumbent unicycle. In short, the Unicumbent. uni_frame_sliders#2.jpg
Faired recumbents are believed to be the most efficient pedal-powered vehicles on the planet, according to team PR officer Chris Stephens, who says “bike, trykes and even quads use an archaic method of shifting gears, and the more wheels you have the greater the rolling resistance the rider has to overcome. Our direct-drive system from the pedals to the single wheel eliminates all unnecessary drive-train friction.” Like a traditional unicyclist the rider balances their weight above the wheel, but in a reclining position for maximum efficiency. This reduces the frontal area of the vehicle, which equates to reduced drag and more speed. A single handlebar inside the fairing allows the rider to control the Unicumbent from side-to-side when needed. For the riders that are a bit uneasy about balancing atop a vehicle capable of 60 mph, gyroscopically-controlled, hUni_fairing_iso_head.jpgigh speed linear actuators move weights just above the wheel to compensate for changes in the rider’s center of gravity and to smooth out the pedal stroke, just like “fly-by-wire” fighter jets. The wheel itself a custom-made carbon fiber disc with a magnesium alloy rim to handle all the torsional stresses. “This isn’t your father’s unicycle,” says Chris.
The outer shell, according to team leader Adam Jankowski, is comprised of an ultra-thin, high-strength carbon fiber shell that has a cdA of .01, the lowest of any vehicle ever tested in S&T’s State Street Wind Tunnel. A hinged, gullwing-style canopy hatch allows the rider to get in and out without assistance, because when stopping, the vehicle deploys electronically-actuated landing gear operated via a handlebar-mounted button. The frame is made of high strength titanium, bringing the frame weight down to 12 pounds, and the entire vehicle tops out at only 41 pounds.
While unicumbents may seem like a niche market, the Missouri S&T HPVC team has already applied for a patent in hopes that, unlike the Moller Skycar, the vehicle actually goes into production. Potential investors may contact the team directly, or email the S&T Director of Communications at for additional information.
Note: No Mizzou engineering students were harmed during the filing of this report.