Joining Vortex, U of T’s
human-powered vehicle, are team members Cameron Robertson, Keith Hui, Dan
Zolyniak, Amanda Chu, Alfie Tham, Aidan Muller, Todd Reichert, Victor Ragusila,
Marissa Goldsmith, Rosemary Chiu and Trefor Evans.
May 17, 2011
Designing a speedy aerodynamic human-powered vehicle is one thing. But, building one that will also hold the groceries, tackle speed bumps and quickly stop and start at intersections requires a whole new approach to engineering.
That’s what a team of U of T Engineering students was able to accomplish in early May, earning first place overall at the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indiana. The event was sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and attracted competitors from the U.S., Canada, Colombia, India and Venezuela.
The goal of the Challenge is to “design and build aerodynamic, highly engineered vehicles that can be used for everyday activities — from commuting to and from work, to going to the grocery store.” This was the second year a U of T Engineering team competed, and it was up against two strong teams from Indiana and Missouri that have dominated the competition for more than a decade.
In deciding to enter the ‘unrestricted’ class – think of it as an obstacle course – the Toronto team had to look at more than speed and endurance. “We had to make a lot of not-so-subtle changes to our main monocoque (shell) design,” says Todd Reichert
(EngSci OT5, UTIAS PhD candidate), a member of the team and one of its pilots. “The custom components needed to be smaller, and the vehicle had to be as light and compact as possible without sacrificing the aerodynamics.”
The changes paid off. The team, captained by Dan Zolyniak
(ChemE 1T1), won five trophies, coming in first overall, as well as in the endurance and women’s sprint categories. Their recumbent vehicle, named Vortex, placed second in men’s sprints, third in design and was also the fastest monocoque vehicle in the unrestricted category.
“In the sprint event, our female pilot, Amanda Chu
(ChemE 1T1+PEY), beat all but one male,” says Reichert. Another team member, first-year student Trefor Evans
(CivE 1T4) outpaced a seasoned Missouri pilot by about seven seconds a lap. The team’s effort was also impressive in the two-and-a-half-hour 90-km endurance race, with a different pilot taking over every 20 km.
The group is looking forward to taking its leaner, faster vehicle to Battle Mountain, Nevada, in September. “We set the collegiate speed records there last year when the men came in at 102 km/hr and the women at around 92,” notes Reichert. “And this year’s bike is so much faster.”
Find out more about the Challenge at Wired Autopia
Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson are the recepients of this year's Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy.