Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Breaks 26 Year Old School Record!

Last year we brought you the story of how engineering students at Cal Poly used Precision Board urethane tooling to make fairings for their human-powered vehicle.  We also told you that the team withdrew from the ASME competition and decided instead to compete at Battle Mountain, Nevada in September 2019 in order to beat the U.S. collegiate team speed record of 61.3 miles per hour.  Hit the link below to see how they did and read the harrowing story of the competition, including video of a crash that ended up being a real test of the team’s built in safety measures.

From George Leone:

The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo HPV Team completed their fully enclosed Human Powered Vehicle “Ambition” just five days before competition. In the process they had to abandon a glitchy video vision system in favor of installing last-minute windows!

The event was the World Human Powered Vehicle Speed Competition (WHPSC) near Battle Mountain, Nevada in September 2019. On the second day of racing Josh Gieschen, the student pilot/motor, attained 64 miles per hour, exceeding UC Berkeley’s 26 year-old US collegiate record of 61.29 mph. But the wind was over the 3.7 meters per second limit, too strong to be “legal”, so no record was allowed.

This became a pattern for the rest of the week, with their speeds going as high as 66 mph twice, frustrating the team again and again with “illegal” winds. Leading up to the last day, Cal Poly only had one “legal” wind run, which was 1/10th mile an hour slower than the record.

cal poly

It came down to the last day, Saturday. They were ceded in the second heat of the morning. Josh got into the bike, the team taped the seams of the shell closed, launched and followed in the school van. He did 63.11 mph, but was frustrated because the wind was “illegal” once again. That looked like the end of it for the year.

The Team drove back to start and requested to run again in the fourth and last heat. It’s rare to attempt two runs so close together because the “motor” usually can’t recover that quick, but Josh was adamant.

Veteran racer Peter Borenstadt graciously gave up his position in that heat so that Cal Poly could have another chance. That’s how HPV Racers are.

cal poly

Cal Poly became serious, quietly taping the pilot in and launching. Josh gave it everything he had left. Just before the bike reached the crew in the “catch zone” (riders are fully enclosed and can’t put their feet down) an exhausted Josh grabbed the brakes too hard. The rear tire blew.

Ambition suddenly pitched sideways and pencil-rolled four times, amazingly ending upright beside the road to be caught by the crew. Because all the safety and restraint systems worked perfectly Josh exited with only a few bruises, and only a few scratches on the body of the bike.

Then they waited for the timer’s report on the radio. “Ambition: 63.68 miles per hour; wind is legal. Congratulations Cal Poly – you have a record!” The team went crazy!

Read more about their record breaking run HERE and also catch up on our original blog where the team used Precision Board urethane tooling to fabricate their HPV.

cal poly

At Coastal Enterprises, we like to look at the composites industry as a fully collaborative effort. Every fresh new development by an individual is really a contribution to a collective knowledge base. Like any scientific pursuit, the most potent advancements are made when information is shared freely between likeminded groups of people. For this reason, we feel obliged to do everything we can to enlighten and empower the future community of composites professionals.  That’s why we support school programs with donations of Precision Board HDU.  Click HERE to find out more about the program or give us a call with your questions at 800-845-0745.

Precision Board Donations: Supporting the Future of Composites

Precision Board donations

A collection of commemorative sponsor photos we’ve received from student engineering teams over the years.

Sponsoring Schools with Precision Board Donations

Here at Coastal Enterprises, we place a lot of importance on the future of composite materials. Space travel, aeronautics, construction, and many other industries depend on the advancement of different composites technologies, and we want to see them flourish in the coming years. The next generation of composites professionals are currently enrolled in engineering, architecture, and design programs in schools all over the country, which is why we do everything we can to support students. We offer Precision Board donations to any school, and we welcome the opportunity to sponsor as many schools as we can.

Precision Board donations

A shipment of donated Precision Board arrives at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineering campus, to be transformed into a 3000 MPG SAE supermileage car.

Over the years, we’ve provided hundreds of shipments of Precision Board donations to schools all over the country. Universities, community colleges, even high schools have received donated Precision Board for various projects. Increasing numbers of schools are introducing their students to HDU tooling as its popularity continues to grow within many high profile industries.

Precision Board donations

The University of Michigan FSAE team uses donated Precision Board to fabricate their FSAE vehicle, bonding segments together and routing the pieces to form a composite layup tool.

The majority of our donations go to university teams competing in events like Formula SAE, ASME Human Powered Vehicle Competition, and North American Solar Challenge. Members of these student teams are required to design a vehicle, source the materials, fabricate and assemble the vehicle components, and finally race their creations at an annual competition.

Precision Board donations

Iowa State University PrISUm Solar Car team uses Precision Board to fabricate composite car parts using an autoclave. Their Hyperion solar car completed the 1650-mile course with an average speed of 65 MPH.

For young engineering students, taking a project from concept to completion is an excellent learning tool. It pushes students to be involved with every level of the production process, giving them a thorough look into the challenges of a professional engineering project. 

Precision Board donations

Cornell University FSAE car, with a carbon-fiber frame and turbocharged Honda CBR engine.

We are proud to be a sponsor of some of the most motivated and talented student teams in the country, and we’re always looking for more. If you have a school sponsorship need, please send us an email detailing your application and requirements, or request a sample.  

University of Nevada, Reno Concrete Canoe team paddles to first place in a regional competition

University of Nevada, Reno Concrete Canoe team paddles to first place in a regional competition

Sweet Phoenix: Cal Poly SLO’s Triumph at HPVC West

Sweet Phoenix 1

At Coastal Enterprises, we like to look at the composites industry as a fully collaborative effort. Every fresh new development by an individual is really a contribution to a collective knowledge base. Like any scientific pursuit, the most potent advancements are made when information is shared freely between likeminded groups of people. For this reason, we feel obliged to do everything we can to enlighten and empower the future community of composites professionals. In our experience, this new generation can often be found in university engineering programs, like the Cal Poly SLO Human Powered Vehicle team. Coastal has supplied the team with Precision Board for many years now, and every year they’ve shown up to the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge with a design that really showcases the capabilities of our material.


The driving force behind the team is George Leone, student shops manager and technician, a man with over four decades in the composites industry in one form or another. George has been building composite streamliner HPVs since the 80s and is one of the foremost authorities on the design and construction of human powered vehicles. His philosophy for guiding the student team members is to provide them with the necessary tools and instruction, then turn them loose to create an individual project that stems from their own ideas and hard work. By maintaining a positive, constructive environment where students can learn by doing, he ensures that senior students can eventually step into leadership roles and help guide their younger teammates.


For last year’s entry into the HPV competition, the team created a carbon-fiber/Kevlar composite streamliner they dubbed the “Sweet Phoenix”. Coincidentally, when George Leone built one of his first streamliners back in 1980, he named it “Phoenix”. Risen from the ashes indeed. The Cal Poly team started by enlisting the help of Zodiac Aerospace to create the molds, thanks to the inopportune breakdown of their aging Shopbot CNC router. The team used PBLT-8 and machined out two halves of a negative mold, meaning that the carbon composite material would be pulled down into the recess to create the sleek teardrop-shaped body.


Students prepped the molds by sanding thoroughly before applying Duratec sealer and primer. The quality of the PBLT-8 was paramount to the end result. As George put it: “The consistency of the foam and it’s impressive ability to hold a sharp edge, even with inexperienced handling, made us glad we chose Precision Board.” 

Sweet Phoenix 2Sweet Phoenix 3

At the 2015 ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge West, the Sweet Phoenix performed admirably, despite a puzzling last-second drive train glitch. Complications aside, the SLO team took home first prizes in both the Design and Men’s Speed categories, a crowning achievement for such a prestigious event. The 2016 team plans to use the same leftover molds, thanks to the durability of the Precision Board. Even after being stored outside for nine months, the molds only required some light sanding and priming to restore them to pristine condition.

Sweet Phoenix Team

George Leone and the Cal Poly HPV team are prime examples of the spirit of invention and collaboration that are deeply engrained in the composites community. All of us at Coastal wish them luck and speed in this year’s competition! Click here for a free sample of Precision Board and spearhead your next composites project!



Need For Speed: 2014 Human Powered Vehicle Competitions

Calling the 2014 Human Powered Vehicle Competition “One of the best in terms of teamwork,” Missouri S & T HPV team member Jon Sanders details the Missouri S & T experience at both major competitions on the East and West coasts this year, where colleges and universities all over the nation competed to build the fastest Human Powered Vehicle.

Our article earlier this year outlined the major technological improvements Missouri S & T has implemented help them win – specifically, building a three-wheelend chassis instead of a bicycle chassis and using a new type of carbon fiber for the body. “In addition to being a great teamwork experience, after two previous years working with Coastal Enterprises donated Precision Board, this year’s tooling experience was by far the best we’ve ever had,” states Sanders.


On April 11, 2014, the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge East competition (held at the University of Central Florida) began. “We showed up at HPVC East knowing we would need to complete the vehicle on-site, which is obviously the worst-case scenario because it meant less time for testing than we were accustomed to,” recalls Sanders. “Nevertheless, we did complete our vehicle and some testing prior to competition. However, once  the competition started, we realized that the drivetrain was about twice as hard as it should have been to operate. This was due to imperfect alignment, meaning we had to push the tires instead of roll them.”


Alignment problems aside, Missouri S & T faced an even bigger dilemma at the end of the Endurance race when rider Jon Sanders collided with another HPV from the University of Central Florida, sending him into a wayside haystack. The full consequences of that crash became evident three laps later when the steering column, pushrod and balljoint snapped while team leader Nikia Chapman was competing. Unable to repair the vehicle, Missouri S & T team members pushed/jogged the vehicle to a finish.

SONY DSCAt the conclusion of HPVC East, Missouri S & T still ended up placing 5th overall out of 35 schools, a remarkable finish after such serious mechanical complications.

Not long after, in San Jose, CA, HPVC West commenced on April 25th, with Missouri S & T in attendance this time with a much more extensively tested HPV. “We had time in between competitions to sort out our alignment issue, and also complete some additional testing,” explains Sanders. “We came into HPVC West much better prepared than at East, and it showed. Our car was performed beautifully until the end of the endurance event, when the steering column pulled out while I was driving. The only thing I could to was pound it into place with my fist every 100-200 feet to make sure it didn’t completely fail.”


“At HPVC West, we really came together as a group and were able to finish in third place overall,” states Jonathan. “Overall, I think the vehicle we brought this year was the best we’ve ever created.”

We’ve followed and reported on Jon and Missouri S & T for three years (since they started using Precision Board), compiling an impressive showcase of the progress the team has made over the years. Check it out and see how the team (and vehicle) has progressed!


Congratulations to Our Contest Winners!

Congratulations to Wray Bassett and George Leone, winners of the Coastal Enterprises Facebook Contest!

Mr. Wray Bassett, owner of Graphic ID Studios in Dover, PA won the Best Design category. Wray’s entry was a sign designed to match the 209 year old building that it hangs on. The sign panel was carved from two 3″ thick PBLT-18 sheets bonded with PB Bond-240 onto a steel armature. The sign was primed using FSC-88WB and painted with an acrylic latex enamel. The lettering is 23k Gold Leaf.

George Leone won the Best Engineered category with Primal 2, the human powered vehicle built by him and his team that can go 70 mph. Check out the full story in our previous blog post.

Thank you to everyone who competed in the contest! Twenty-five runners up will all receive a free 16 oz. bottle of PB-Bond-240 for their participation!