A group of UCF Knights raced to the top at the 2023 e-Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, a national design and innovation competition that encourages college students to design, build and race their own human-powered vehicle.
The mechanical engineering majors won three top awards, including first place overall and the corresponding $1,000 prize. Their vehicle, a recumbent tricycle that also serves as their Senior Design capstone project, placed second in the endurance race and took third place for design.
This win has special meaning for the students, who are all members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, as ASME is the host organization for the event.
“I speak for the team when I say that it is a great honor to be recognized by ASME,” says Kyle Broecker, the team leader. “As this vehicle also acts as our Senior Design capstone project, we feel that winning validates all the hard work we put in over the past two semesters.”
The winning team — comprising seniors Broecker, Valentin Hernandez Rivano, Marco Jazmin, Austin Marsh, Melanie Robertson, Sebastian Simko and Joshua Wall — completed their Senior Design project with the aid of their sponsor, Catrike, a manufacturer of two- and three-wheel recumbent vehicles. Catrike provided several parts and constructive feedback on the design while the students built the vehicle from scratch.
The students chose to design a recumbent tricycle that could compete in the endurance race, which led drivers through a kilometer-long loop laced with obstacles and elevation gains over the course of two-and-a-half hours. Broecker says the race provided unforeseen challenges as well.
“After an hour-and-a-half, the battery for the vehicle’s electrical assist ran out and the remaining hour was done with leg power alone,” Broecker says. “Several other challenges were faced by our team during the race including flipping over around a hairpin turn, the left pedal arm falling off of the vehicle and damage to the right pedal that left it jammed at an angle.”
Despite the unexpected obstacles, the team persevered and bested the 11 competitors from around the country. During the design and build process, the team learned several lessons about teamwork, perseverance and themselves.
“Understanding everyone’s differences and finding a way to work as a team towards a common goal was the greatest lesson,” Broecker says. “We also learned how to deal with highly stressful situations and still come out on the other side. The project itself is quite demanding, so the chance to throw ourselves head first into a true engineering project helped many on the team to understand what kind of engineer they wanted to be.”