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Human Powered Paper Vehicle CompetitionEach year, EWU hosts the annual Intercollegiate Human Powered Paper Vehicle Engineering Competition. College teams from Washington, Idaho and Oregon participate in the event by creating human-powered vehicles almost entirely out of paper to see which team can build the best performing vehicle.
We had the best turnout yet in 2005, with 18 teams competing. Team “Aftershock”, from Shoreline Community College, blew away the competition and broke the old official course record by 34 seconds with their outstanding 1:21 run. Their success is due largely to good planning and starting on their vehicle in late 2004, which left them lots of time to work out the kinks. This was one of the best designed and built vehicles we have seen and their performance backs that up. Their closest competitor, team “Rhino”, also from Shoreline Community College, finished a minute and twenty five seconds behind them with a time of 2:46.
Team “Aftershock” was not alone in its decision to use a bicycle type design and an indirect drive for their vehicle, but they were the only ones that really made that combination work. The most common problem was maintaining chain or belt tension on indirect drive systems. Four vehicles suffered from thrown chains and one lost belt tension. Although the vehicle which took second place also employed a chain drive, it was also started early and was very well built. I don't want to diminish the accomplishments of the other teams, I just want to point out that many teams are attempting to use an indirect drive, but most are not allowing sufficient time to build and test this complex mechanism which is very difficult to make work in a paper vehicle.
Presentations went very well this year and we got off to an early start, which kept us right on schedule throughout the day. We had several excellent presentations with only one point separating the second and third place teams. Teams also did a good job of turning in bonus point items this year and both the second and third place team turned in three of the four possible items. It turned out that team “Aftershock” not only could design a good vehicle they could give a heck of a presentation about it and ended up taking first place in the presentation category. “The Scapegoats” from Spokane Falls Community College were right on their heels though and captured second place.
As has been the case for several years, the award for most innovative design was a tough call. There was a run off vote between several of the vehicles and only one vote seperated the two favorites. Due to several design innovations that included a custom built chain and a unique shock absorber system, team “Aftershock” won the award.
Finally the award for Best Team Spirit needed to be awarded and it came down to another close vote. I know that by this time you're thinking team “Aftershock”, but they didn't win everything. The real winner was team N.R.T.C. from Highline Community College. Their little roller vehicle was an interesting design that required an extraordinary effort to get around the track. I think that they may have underestimated the challenge that their design laid before them, but they faced the task with unshaking determination. I also have to mention one of the other amazing, but painful demonstrations of determination that occurred. I am still trying to figure out what motivated team “Sphaera Mus Muris” to build their rolling barrel design and what drove team member Max Adzhigirey to continue on when his barrel turned into a collapsed coccoon. Whatever the reasons it was an amazing effort.
I want to give a special thanks to the local ASME chapter who helped judge the competition and to my wife Karen who did a lot of the registration work and managed all the information and data entry. Finally I need to thank all the other volunteers and faculty who put in a lot of time to make this possible.
If you are a student or faculty member and are looking into this competition for the first time, I hope you will consider joining us in the future. For those of you who participated in our competition, I look forward to seeing you and your new designs.
Once again, thanks to all.