Competition 2014

April 16, 2014

The Olin HPV team just returned from the ASME HPVC East Competition at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. The team had a phenomenal showing, placing 3rd and turning heads with its vehicle, Cheryl.


The Final Days Before Compeition

When we had an opportunity to get most of a day of riding in before leaving, we knew that we were at least in slightly better shape than last year. However, the ride day highlighted a number of problems with the vehicle, most notably the chain issues due to the torsional flex in the midsection of the chassis. Furthermore, the chain idlers were tearing themselves apart. We also had not side load tested the rollbar and the ski/skate design innovation had not yet been tested. But hey, we got most of a day of testing in. That was better than last year!


In the final three days before we left, we completely tore apart the vehicle to add additional stiffening carbon ribs along the bottom and midsection of the monocoque. Although this added a couple of pounds to the vehicle’s weight, it dramatically improved stiffness and seemed to mostly fix our chain issues. Through all this, almost every team member managed to ride the vehicle before competition for the first time in recent team history. We also painted the vehicle the night before leaving and put everything together in the minutes before packing it up in the trailer.


The team departed bright and early on Thursday morning for the long drive to David’s house in North Carolina where we were to stay the night. The four cars arrived between 10pm and 12:30am. One car had encountered some unknown mechanical troubles along the way.


After just 90 minutes of sleep, five team members departed David’s house with the trailer to make it to Florida in time for the design report update. In the morning, several team members headed to the mechanic to diagnose and fix the mechanical car troubles. After getting everything fixed up, the last of the cars left NC at around 11am. Meanwhile, the early crew unloaded the trailer and presented our design report update (presentation) which went quite well. After safety inspection and a couple of hours of adding decals, tweaking the drivetrain and mounting hatch latches, the team headed to dinner with the rest of the team which had just arrived.


Saturday morning came and we headed back to the university for the drag races. Anne and Alex promptly qualified the team for the women’s and men’s sprint events with the 3rd best times in each event. Maddie and Anne alternated races for the women’s sprint event and placed 3rd. For the men’s event, Alex and David placed 4th after losing to UCF, the eventual winner.


This was quite the year for tricycles – we weren’t the only ones with this bright idea. Numerous teams including Rose-Hulman, Missouri S&T, University of Toronto and eventual winners UCF had tricycle designs.

In the afternoon, Dennis, Anne and Maddie presented our design innovation, the four season vehicle. The presentation went very well and the judges were impressed. However, we placed 13th in this event primarily due to the very strong entries from other teams.

After watching a few more presentations, the team headed back to the trailer and made some minor tweaks to the vehicle in preparation for the next day’s endurance race. Furthermore, we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful sun before heading out for a team dinner.



On Sunday, the team headed out to the endurance race. David started the race by grabbing the “grocery” jug. (This is the first vehicle we’ve built with a dedicated grocery carrying system). Gaby, Ben and Alex each took turns navigating the obstacle-filled endurance course for the next two hours of the competition. Halley, Tatiana, Shrinidhi and Janie also each took turns riding other team’s vehicles (not all teams come to competition with female riders).

In the final 45 minutes of the race, Alex hit a speed bump and heard a scraping noise. The back of the fairing was scraping on the ground. After evaluating, it was clear that the bolt holding the rear axle in had sheared in two, separating the rear wheel from the monocoque. After attempts at repairs proved futile, Kari took off to run the vehicle around the track for the remainder of the race. Note that this year, we had company – the endurance race broke five vehicles at the competition. By the end of the race, much of our team, the Toronto team and the Missouri S&T team ran together through the finish as the crowd cheered.


Four of the five teams who ran their vehicles around the course for part of the race. (Wisconsin, Missouri S&T, Olin, Toronto)

At the awards banquet, we learned that we had placed third overall. Furthermore, we won a spirit award for our enthusiasm and dedication to all parts of the competition – even when things were not going quite our way.

The dedication, perseverance and spirit of this team never cease to amaze me. After the race was over, multiple other teams came up to various team members and said that our team was the most inspiring team at the competition due to the quality of our vehicle, our enthusiasm and our sportsmanship. Thank you all for a great weekend and a phenomenal year.