Better than your average bike: UW-Madison engineers among top finishers in Human Powered Vehicle Challenge

With an efficient, highly engineered vehicle, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Human Powered Vehicle team won fourth place overall in the 2017 ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge North America East.

The UW-Madison team competed against 45 student teams from around the world in the challenge, which was held April 21-23, 2017, at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Victor Markus
Mechanical engineering student Victor Markus standing in front of the UW-Madison Human Powered Vehicle team’s 2017 bike. Markus is holding a 3D printed model of the team’s vehicle. Photo: Stephanie Precourt

The team also took third place in the innovation category at the competition.

“I’m really happy with how the team did in the competition,” says mechanical engineering senior Victor Markus, , the team’s chief engineer and vice president. “The leadership on the team was really solid, and everyone put a lot of hard work into designing and building our vehicle.”

ASME’s international Human Powered Vehicle Challenge provides an opportunity for students to design and build sustainable and practical transportation alternatives for everyday use, from commuting to work to carrying goods to market.

Each team creates a 30-page design report for its vehicle and gives a presentation at the competition. Then the teams pit their vehicles against each other in two speed events—a drag race and a two-and-a-half hour endurance race. In the endurance race, the teams must maneuver their vehicles around a variety of obstacles.

This year, the UW-Madison team designed and built its vehicle in the form of a recumbent tricycle, with two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. To make their vehicle aerodynamic and reduce the drag from air, the students designed and constructed a lightweight carbon-fiber fairing—an aerodynamic outer shell—to enclose their vehicle.

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