Winner – 1st Place in Design – Human Powered Vehicle

The Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Team recently competed at the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) student Human Powered Vehicle Challenge West competition with their newest bike “Gemini”, which was built using donated Precision Board Plus HDU.

The event was held at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on the gokart racing track. The first event was the design portion and was held in the pit garages. A team of judges inspected the bike and the team was allotted 20 minutes to explain their design, safety, testing and analysis. The design portion shows their engineering, design and fabrication skills, and is the only part of the competition where race luck (good or bad) doesn’t play a part.

Cal Poly won the design phase due to their foam/carbon roll structure and its unique fabrication method that increased the strength by 30%,as well as the integration of solar panels into the flawlessly fabricated carbon chassis and carbon/kevlar fairing to charge their iPhone navigation system.

Here is a picture of Gemini in all her beauty here:

Next they prepared for the 800 ft. drag race amid cold (40˚F) and windy weather conditions with 18 others teams. The women’s drag race was raced by Katie Hahn, who had not been able to practice due to previous obligations and because of a test bike had been scavenged for parts, but still managed to produce a strong performance. She made it into the semi-finals and beat heavy-hitting Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology at the last second. This meant they were going to make it into the finals against Missouri S & T, who you may remember from our previous blog: How Fast Can A Human Powered Vehicle Go?

Unfortunately, coming off the line, Katie’s shoe unclipped and the bike fell, resulting in a win for Missouri S& T. Both schools asked the judges if they could just race again but for no points or score, in the spirit of friendly competition. The judges gave the ok and Missouri won round 2 as well! Cal Poly finished 2nd place in the Women’s drags.

For the men’s drag races, with a “winners and losers” round running, rider Will Hilgenberg lost to Rose-Hulman. They then battled their way up the losers bracket, race after race. Upon making it to the quarter finals, they were matched against a very light upright bamboo bike from Long Beach. Not thinking they had a chance, they had a stroke of good luck when the Long Beach rider missed a shift and won by half a bike length.

The last win propelled them into the semi-finals, to face off against Rose-Hulman again. Culminating in an another extremely close race, at the finish line Cal Poly won by six inches. They then moved onto the finals against Missouri S & T, and  ended up taking 2nd place in the Men’s Drag Races.

The 2.5 hour endurance event was held on Sunday, and had a ramp, speed bump, tight slalom and a stop sign every lap. They were also required to carry 1 gallon of water, but only for one lap and had to have four riders including one female.

The team spent most of the night trying to get the landing gear assembly to operate reliably, but they finally gave up and cut a foot hole on the left side of the fairing. The landing gear hadn’t been tested enough. Because of this, the bike was falling down often at the stop sign. Long Beach’s bamboo upright was at the top of its class in this event, since they could easily accelerate due to their light weight and upright position. The last rider for Cal Poly, Matt, hit several cones in the slalom portion of the race, resulting in many penalty points. Cal Poly ended up finishing in 3rd place.

They were also awarded the “Best Crash” award when the bike went off course over a berm and the team dragged it back onto the course with the rider still inside.

For the overall score, Missouri S & T beat them by 1/100th of a point, 85.99 to 86.00! A competition to the finish.

Thank you to George Leone and Cal Poly for providing this great story!

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Here are some pictures from the vacuum-bagging process used to create fairings from Precision Board Plus molds: