Tag Archives: engineering competitions

2018 Human Powered Vehicle Competition

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 18 April 2018

The Ohio University Human Powered Vehicle team recently competed for their fourth time in an event sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, this year at Penn State University. The competition’s goal is to provide innovative solutions to the world of human powered vehicles to make them more practical in today’s world.

To achieve this, there are multiple events that test teams and their vehicles which range from technical analysis and documentation, to drag races and a two and half hour endurance event with various obstacles including speedbumps, slaloms, stop signs, and even carrying groceries.

As part of the preliminaries on Friday, there was a safety check, which included assessment of the impact in a rollover.

Rollover Test

Saturday was filled with a men’s and women’s, double elimination style drag race where teams begin from a stop and accelerate down and quarter mile stretch of road.

HPV Drag Race

Traditionally the team had designed tadpole trikes, a trike with two wheels in the front for their low speed stability and handling, but this year that was changed to a two-wheeled vehicle that is much less stable at low speeds. This was countered with landing gear that could be deployed but the change to two wheels allowed for better efficiency and thus higher speed in this event. One member of the team was able to accelerate to 37.8 mph over the quarter mile stretch which makes it the fastest vehicle the team has designed to date. Our one female rider ended up riding all races in that bracket and brought home 3rd place, and I combined with one other male to finish in fourth place on the men’s side.

Sunday is the day of the endurance event, the two and a half hour race that always seems to be filled poor weather and puts vehicles and riders to the test. This year the weather was cold and the majority of the course was a grueling gradual climb, but the team managed to get by with only five riders, one of which, reached the maximum 20 km limit per rider. In the end, the team finished the endurance event in second place of the 45 teams that were there, but after a few penalties were applied we dropped to third.

One of the things that I was personally the proudest of was that the team was awarded the sportsmanship award for helping other teams when they needed it. As I am still very close to the two founding members, I know that is the type of culture that they both wanted the organization to be like and would be very proud that it has remained that way to this day.

To me, this organization and event have been incredibly important as it has offered me a tremendous growth opportunity not only on the technical side, but also as a leader and manager. This was the first year with new, highly motivated, leadership that I was able to mentor some, but it was great to watch as they developed another reliable vehicle for the competition. In the future I plan on staying involved in the team as a mentor and possibly sponsor, but also may be interested in assisting with further competition judging or event planning activities within ASME.

Eco-Challenge Competition: Reusable to-go boxes

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 30 November 2017

Along with some other Engineering Ambassadors, I was fortunate enough to compete in this year’s Ohio University Eco-Challenge! The competition involved members of the Cutler Scholars Program, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology Robe Leadership Institute, and the College of Business Select Leaders program.

The purpose of the project/competition is to present a sustainability solution for a current issue at Ohio University or in the Athens area to panel of judges, and the top idea(s) are selected to be implemented. However, the project involves much more than this. It is also an opportunity to work with students outside of engineering and to make a “sales pitch” of your ideas, which are both things you don’t really get to do in the engineering curriculum alone.

My team’s project was to replace the current compostable to-go boxes from the dining halls with reusable, recyclable to-go boxes—and I am happy to report that my team’s proposal received first place! Because of this, the Culinary Services program at Ohio University is beginning a pilot program for this upcoming spring semester, and if this goes according to plan, all dining halls will have these reusable boxes come Fall 2018.

So, if you’re a future student reading this, you can thank Eco-Challenge Team 4 when you get to use the durable, reusable boxes! We hope the transition is smooth, and we are excited about the positive environmental impact this change will have.

Eco-Challenge: Residence Hall Heating

Brandon Mahr

Brandon Mahr,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 28 November 2017

If you’re looking for a challenge outside of your normal homework and projects, you won’t have to look far at Ohio University. Feeling a little bold earlier this semester and looking to improve my problem solving skills, I engaged in Ohio University’s Eco-Challenge, and it was an awesome experience.

The Ohio University Eco-Challenge is a competition that involves students from the Russ College Robe Leadership Institute, students from the College of Business’s Select Scholars, and the Cutler Scholars organization. Students from each of the organizations are mixed and put into teams, where they then
are tasked with developing a sustainable concept supported by a savings analysis.

My team got to work in early September developing a concept to improve Ohio University’s sustainability efforts. The concept we came up with was implementing occupancy-sensing thermostats in Ohio University’s dorms, so that when students left their dorm rooms, the AC/Heating would automatically kick-off, thus eliminating AC/Heating energy waste.

Then the real work began. Not only did we have to come up with the concept, we had to prove that it would save Ohio University money.

Thankfully, Dan Squiller, an alumnus of Ohio University and CEO of Aquam Corporation in California, was there to guide us along the way. With the support of Dan and other professors, my team was able to develop a feasible implementation strategy that could save Ohio University almost $40,000
dollars a year if implemented in Bromley Hall!

Unfortunately, our concept proposal did not win, but OU facilities is still looking into implementing our concept.

The experience was awesome, and I can’t thank Dan Squiller and Ohio University enough for providing me the opportunity to solve a real world problem and engage in problem solving with a cross-functional team.

Eco-Challenge: Aquatic Center

Landon Rehmar

Landon Rehmar,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 26 November 2017

This semester I had had the amazing opportunity to be selected into the Robe Leadership Institute. RLI is a unique course for graduating seniors in the Russ College. The purpose of the course is to develop engineering students’ leadership skill-set through valuable leadership insight and techniques. The course is led by one of the best professors in the Russ College, Dr. Bayless, a faculty member of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

One part of the RLI is a project called the Eco-Challenge. The Eco-Challenge is a competition to come up with sustainability projects around campus. It is a unique project with teams made of a combination of engineering students from RLI, business students from Select Leaders, and a wide variety of students from the Cutler Scholars Program.

This challenge helped everyone learn how to work in a diverse group and practice leadership skills. The interdisciplinary teams required us to work with students with entirely different backgrounds, mindsets, and problem solving skills.

My team’s project was to retrofit the aquatic center with new high efficiency LEDs. The project was a great learning experience and a huge success: if our recommendations are implemented we projected that the University will save over $14,000 and over 350,000 lbs of CO2 per year.

The competition concluded with presentations to our professors and various stakeholders around campus. My team ended up taking second place and on top of that, our project will most likely be implemented.


This course and project have allowed me to learn things about leadership that most students don’t get the opportunity to learn. I really enjoyed working on the Eco-Challenge and would highly encourage anyone with the opportunity to take RLI to do so!

Flight Team Regional Competition

Becca Sedlak

Becca Sedlak,
Senior, Aviation Flight

Athens, OH 25 October 2017

For the past four years I have been a member of Ohio University’s Flight Team. It is one of the best experiences that I have had. Every fall we spend 10 days at a regional completion competing against Kent State, Ohio State, Bowling Green and Western Michigan in multiple ground events and flying events.

My favorite event is message drop. Message drop is when you get to drop a small box, called a message, out of the plane’s window and try to either get in the barrels on the ground or the closest.

There are two people in the plane, one flying and one the drop master. The drop master is in charge of telling the pilot where the barrel is and how to get the plane lined up so the drop master can drop the message out of the plane. The pilot is in charge of flying the plane and going no lower than 200 feet about the field.

This is one of my favorite events because it is a stress-free day because there truly is no way to train for this event. It is just overall a fun event and there is just a fun stress-free energy in the air. Teams even go to the extent of dressing up to bring more joy in the event. Here is Gareth Bussa, another ambassador, as the pilot and me as the drop master before we went up.

Pre Message Drop

Since I was the only senior this year I got the privilege of going up as a drop master with my best friend as the pilot and then I went up as the pilot with my little from my fraternity as the drop master. It was the best way to end my last competition as a competitor.

Flight Competition

Gareth Bussa

Gareth Bussa,
Junior, Aviation

Athens, OH 24 October 2017

Earlier this month, I spent a week and a half in Central Michigan. Ohio University’s Flying Bobcats were competing in Region III of NIFA SAFECON. SAFECON is a competition against 5 flight teams in the Midwest. We compete against Ohio State, Western Michigan, Kent State and Bowling Green. It’s a great week of friendly rivalries, trying to compete for the top 3 positions to go to nationals.

As a flight team, we compete in ground and flying events. For me, the flying events are a blast. With flying, we compete in landings, navigational runs and message drop. Ground events consist of E6b, SCAN and Aircraft Recognition, preflight, sim and safety.

As a small team, we knew it was going to be a challenge to compete against the larger teams. We practiced multiple times a week, trying our best to be prepared for the events. We left on a Friday morning, flying our four aircraft up.

I flew up an aircraft hoping to get as close to Michigan as I could since there was some inclement weather. The aircraft I fly is not capable of flying into clouds. So as I flew up towards Michigan, I stopped in Port Clinton, Ohio to fuel up and grab some lunch.

Flying long distances in a small aircraft can be very fun. You can stay low to the ground and see the view beneath you. We stopped and fueled up, grabbed a delicious meal at a small airport diner and departed heading for Battle Creek Michigan.

On the way, the weather became clear blue skies and unrestricted visibility. Passing over the farm fields of Michigan and seeing the small communities was amazing. One town had a corn maze that was shaped like a bunny eating a carrot. Others you can tell were prepping for their fall festivities.

Being able to see the world beneath you is unimaginable, especially flying at a lower altitude. If you fly lower, you can see more detail on the ground beneath you.

We arrived at Battle Creek, Michigan to begin the 10 days of working hard and preparing for the competition. We were supposed to practice flying the weekend we got there, but Michigan weather decided that it wasn’t the right thing to do. Rainfall that weekend broke the 2-day record in Battle Creek, Michigan for the most rain. 2.5 inches caused us to only practice ground events. We practiced at the hotel as well as the airport, hoping for a break in the weather so us fliers could get out and practice our navigation runs as well as landings.

Our biggest weakness was the ground events. With there only being 10 of us on the team, most of us had to do every single event. We practiced our e6b’s, plotting our routes and studied our FAR/AIM’s. Whenever the actual ground events started, we had all prepared as much as we could.

In each ground event, you have 5 people testing, giving you 24 other people to compete against. This was very challenging and stressful because you knew there were other competitors out there that only studied for that one ground event.

The best part arrived, flying events. Flying events are the most exciting event to do throughout the week. Pilot slots on a team are very tough to get. Each person on the team with his or her private pilot license may compete for a position on the team.

There are a total of 5 landers and 3 navigation pilots on a team. In the landing competitions, you try to land on a specific line. They judge you on how precise you are, if you’re using proper techniques and how long or short you are to that line. Landings can be very challenging depending on the winds on the ground and in the air.

During the competition, the winds on the ground were gusting over 25 miles and hour and the winds at 2,000 feet were blowing well over 50 miles an hour. This gave you a disadvantage on your pattern techniques as well as landing. Whenever you land with a lot of wind, you have to add more power to keep the airplane flying. This can be very challenging whenever you’re doing a flight when you have to pull all the power out and land with no power in; basically, you have to glide the airplane down to the runway.

Overall through the event, we had a great time together and competing against other teams. We all had personal bests throughout the event and it showed from last year’s competition in Bowling Green. We didn’t get the place we wanted at the end, but next year the team will be better.

Robotics Club

Brandon Mahr

Brandon Mahr,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 8 October 2017

I love my engineering classes, and I have learned a lot from them, but one of the best ways to cement what you have learned in class is to apply what you’ve learned in a student organization.

One student organization I am in is the Robotics Club, which is a new Russ College organization that focuses on developing and creating, you guessed it, robots.

As a club, one of our first projects is to create a robot to enter into the Association for Technology,Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) Robotics Competition. At the completion, we will have to put our robot through several tests, including throwing a bean bag into a corn hole, lifting up a weight and grabbing an item underneath it, and removing an object from inside a tiny pipe.

In order to make the robot perform these functions, we have to make the robot, from scratch. I have taken several classes geared towards robotics, including a C# Coding class, an Electronics/Microcontrollers class, and a couple of others, but this is my first chance to truly apply what I have learned about robotics in class into a project.

I have learned and incredible amount of information about robotics from engaging in activities with this club, and is has really helped cement what I learned in class.

Not only has the Robotics Club helped me get involved in something I’m passionate about and helped me learn, but it has also helped me professionally. Employers love to see students who are active in clubs and students who have been involved in activities where they have had to solve problems. You can’t really go wrong with getting involved in an Engineering organization, and I know getting involved with the Robotics Club this fall has certainly helped me.