Tag Archives: engineering competitions

Rest, Reflection, and Robotics

Alvin Chaney

Alvin Chaney,
Junior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 18 March 2019

This Spring Break was a great time to rest …. And reflect. Although the time went by very quickly, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

The highlight of my break was on Saturday. For the past nine years, on a Saturday in March, my parents and I (below) have volunteered at the “Where in the World is Dr. Dunn” Robotics Competition.


The event is hosted by the National Technical Association (NTA) and the University of Cincinnati (UC) – College of Engineering and Applied Science.


Nearly eleven years ago, I was a middle schooler participating in the National Technical Association’s Math Camp hosted at UC and directed by Dr. Cheryl Dunn. Dr. Dunn asked the camp participants to share ideas for activities. I loved (and still love) Legos™ and had discovered Robotics by using the Mindstorms™ sets. I shared my idea for a Robotics competition by writing a proposal (with the help of my parents to the NTA and Dr. Dunn.)


Dr. Dunn and the NTA implemented the idea which initially focused on elementary and middle school students. The first competition was in 2010 and participation has increased over the years and it now includes high school students.


Since 2010, the leadership committee has rewarded my contribution by allowing me to present the A.P. Chaney Perseverance Award. This award is given to the team or individual who has found a way to overcome their challenges. This also motivates me to continue to persevere and to do my best.


Below are the 2019 A.P. Chaney Perseverance Award Winners.


Overall, this was a chance to rest, reflect and enjoy Robotics. I had an opportunity to “create for good” and this was a wonderful way to spend my Spring Break!

Human-Powered Vehicle Team

Tanner Wick

Tanner Wick,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 27 January 2019

Over winter break I helped finish the design of this year’s human powered vehicle for the upcoming 2019 ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge. Teams work throughout the year to design, manufacture, and test a vehicle that will compete in speed and endurance events alongside dozens of other teams from around the country.

This project is a true test of the student’s knowledge and understanding of the engineering design process. Each year, the team decides on product design specifications for what characteristics (weight, top speed, drag coefficient, etc.) the vehicle will have. This year’s bike was designed as a three-wheeled tadpole made from an aluminum frame and carbon fiber fairing. The frame includes a rollover protection system that prevents the rider from being injured in case the vehicle flips over. The fairing is designed to allow for minimal air resistance on the vehicle. This results in higher speeds and greater rider comfort.

After finishing the design over break, all materials for manufacturing were ordered. This meant the team could start building as soon as the semester started. The team is pushing a rigorous timeline so that there is ample time for testing and training before the competition in April. After placing 3rd in the previous three competitions, the team is excited and determined to place higher this year.

Safecon 2018

Sarah Bailey

Sarah Bailey,
Junior, Aviation

Athens, OH 28 October 2018

Earlier this month, I went to the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safecon 2018 regional competition in Columbus, Ohio, a regional flying competition that hosts schools from all over Ohio and Michigan.

Competitors face off in many different ground and flying events, including computer accuracy, aircraft recognition, ground trainer, simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation (SCAN), short field landings and power off landings.

I myself competed in a few events. There was the ground trainer event, where you are given a pattern with constantly changing altitudes, air speeds, and headings. You then fly the pattern in a simulator and are scored based on how precisely you are able to perform the pattern.

I also competed in SCAN and landings. The goal of landings is to land the plane as close as you can to a specific point on the runway, called the “Zero Line.” We do this two different ways, one being power off landings in which you pull the aircraft’s power to idle to simulate an engine failure, and the other being a normal short field landing, which is a standard power-on landing aiming for the zero line.

The Flying Bobcats, Ohio University’s flight team, had a great week and placed
fourth overall! Regional competition is a really great way to get to know aviators from schools all over Ohio. This is my second year attending competition and it has been a great way to get involved in aviation and get to know other students who share my passion for flying.

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!