In 2018, for the first time, UVM competed in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) Human Powered Vehicle Challenge — and it won’t be the last.
That’s because the team of CEMS students managed to place 17th overall out of 47 colleges and universities at the Penn-State hosted event, beating many notables such as Harvard and Clemson with its design of a human powered vehicle that might be useful in developing countries. “We had a lot of fun, and we did really well,” reports UVM ASME Chapter President Brandon Voll ’18. “It was a highlight just to be able to make it to the competition; we weren’t 100 percent, but we pushed really hard the last couple of weeks, and had a great experience at Penn State.”
Competing as team 39, Voll and fellow students Jon Burton, Aidan Laracy, Tony Sorrenti, Bella Barbera, Brandon Gamble, Jack Tanny, Josh Girard, Sam Baker, Sarah Burgess, Seth Hoenes, Sonny Parrotte, Alex Voll, Ayo Mikun and Wils Ezequelle showed off their design of a recumbent trike that had to pass several safety tests of braking, U-turning and rolling over before qualifying to compete in the drag races. “We physically had to flip the vehicle over with someone in it to show the safety judge that the head did not touch the ground,” says Voll, who adds that the biggest challenge was having a starting point. “We had zero experience.”
John Novotny served as the faculty advisor and says that the unknown aspects of the competition were daunting, but the teamwork solved the difficulties. That speaks to the greater mission of the ASME chapter. “We’re just trying to show that engineers can have some fun, too,” says incoming president Tony Sorrenti.
After passing the safety tests, the UVM team was off to the races, placing 17th in the men’s drag race, 9th in the women’s drag race (even with exhausted legs from all of the on-site testing), 10th in the endurance event and 17th overall, pitted against competitors from as far away as Egypt. “Since we did really well without knowing what to expect,” says Sorrenti, “we’re even more excited for next year.”