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!


Against The Wind: A 2013 Human-Powered Vehicle

Well it’s that time of year again! Schools from all over the country recently finished competing in the massive human powered vehicle competitions held each year. Coastal Enterprises was proud to support Missouri S & T students by donating Precision Board Plus HDU which was used to make molds for the carbon fiber body of the 2013 “Colossus” vehicle.

We were able to catch up with Jonathan Sanders, student at Missouri S & T, to find out just what went down at the 2013 competitions. This year saw them compete with their new and improved vehicle, “Colossus”, which we featured in a previous blog.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 2.19.15 PM

West Coast:

HPVC West, originally scheduled to take place at the NASA Ames facility, was moved to the San Jose State Univ. parking lot because of sequestration. According to Jonathan, the smaller course gave the advantage to the slower, more stables bikes and didn’t truly allow the faster bikes enough room to shine.

The competition went quite smoothly though, with only a single mechanical malfunction – a landing gear failure 15 seconds into the two and a half-hour long Endurance race. While that may sound serious, it was not catastrophic due to a hybrid design, which allowed them to stop by also using their feet. Overall, the 2012 champions still managed a third place finish, and hoped to do better in two weeks at HPVC East.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 2.13.40 PM

East Coast:

Unfortunately, HPVC East in Michigan didn’t go quite as planned with not one but two drivetrain failures after hard pedaling overstressed the metal. Consequentially, replacing the parts took over 25 minutes of race time.

Things were looking good in the female sprint race with team member Nikia Chapman in first place until a crash barely a single foot from the finish line led to a broken seat-postition changer. Of course, setbacks such as this are always great lessons in teamwork and perseverance for everyone on the team amid hasty repairs and solutions.

2013 HPV EAST 095

Ran in a double elimination bracket style, the physical energy required in the Sprint Races is massive. With the race time getting shorter and shorter between races, the probability of racers getting physically exhausted is high. Despite all mechanical problems, Missouri S & T was still able to finish 2nd place in the Male Sprint category, with an overall 2nd place finish for the team. Not bad for multiple ill-timed mechanical issues.


Coastal Enterprises would like to congratulate all participants in both HPVC races and we salute all of the innovative students participating in these forward-thinking programs.

Can’t wait to see what they put together for next year!