A team of mechanical engineering seniors capped off their senior year participating in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ 2018 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge. “Having a competitive capstone project was a huge draw,” said Cristina Zebeljan, the captain of LMU’s team. “It added another level of intensity and motivation to the project.”
The regional competition challenges college students to demonstrate the application of sound engineering design principles in the development of sustainable and practical transportation alternatives. Students work in teams to design and build efficient, highly engineered vehicles for everyday use—from commuting to work, to carrying goods to market.
The competition also put the team’s engineering curriculum into practice. “During the design phase, we were able to incorporate principles we learned from courses such as Machine Design and Computer Aid Design. When manufacturing the bike, we relied on our engineering judgment,” said Zebeljan. “This hands-on experience is critical to a comprehensive engineering curriculum.”
This year was the second time Loyola Marymount University competed in the challenge, providing the 2018 team with only one past entry from which to learn. Other schools had been competing and perfecting their bike models for year.
“Entering this competition put us in foreign territory,” says Zebeljan. “We didn’t have the same resources, experience or knowledge that many other teams had who had competed in the past.”
Regardless, Zebeljan was pleased with her team’s performance. The LMU team placed ninth out of 17 teams with a bike weighing 74 lbs., 16 lbs. under their goal. They also ranked seventh in design, seventh in the endurance event, ninth in innovation, ninth in the women’s speed event and tenth in the men’s speed event.
Following the competition, the team made several observations. “We realized that a simpler bike frame would be sufficient for safety, but also lighter and easier to maneuver. Additionally, different transmission arrangements could provide a better power output and allow us to increase our speed,” noted Zebeljan. “We also learned quite a bit on how to take on new challenges.”
Zebeljan’s advice for future LMU teams? “Once you start working on the project, you’ll begin to notice how comprehensive this project actually is. It truly encompasses all areas of your undergraduate engineering coursework. It will challenge you to apply what you’ve learned in the past few years. It will also help you expand your horizons by encouraging creative approaches and solutions.”
The 2018 LMU HPVC team included Nicolas Breceda, Adrian Cheng, Nicholas Cordero, Melissa Dougherty, Alexander Hendricks, William Hohorst, Brandon Kim, Sara Kim, Gustavo Padilla, Joshua Villalobos and Cristina Zebeljan.