West Virginia University’s new Human Powered Vehicle Club – now in its inaugural semester – is looking to change the way people think about personal mobility.
“We’re now designing an alternative, sustainable form of transportation that is practical, fast, durable, and can be used in rural areas, like West Virginia,” adviser Dr. Kostas Sierros says. “It will be vehicle-like, but powered entirely by pedaling.”
Although being only weeks old, the Human Powered Vehicle Club is already poised to begin national competition soon.
WVU’s first vehicle will compete in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ “Human Powered Vehicle Challenge” at Grove City College in April 2012. Design, speed and durability are the competition’s three criteria.
That means WVU’s entry – now on the drawing board and in early prototype – must be complete and ready for competition within the next few months.
WVU’s human-powered vehicle will be a tricycle design for stability purposes, said Sierros. It will have a hard exterior shell, or fairing, which enhances its aerodynamic qualities and protects the driver from outside elements.
WVU’s vehicle will also incorporate renewable energy devices, like solar cells, for powering interior and exterior LED lights. It will employ low-emissivity films on all vehicle windows, which keep riders cool in summer and warm in winter. The vehicle will feature storage space as well.
“We are designing a human-powered and self-contained vehicle that is inexpensive and can be used in practical, everyday life by any member of the community. This is the vision,” Sierros said.
The team, 20 students strong in its first semester, is sponsored by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Jacky Prucz, chairman, has been particularly supportive of the project, noted Sierros.
--Dr. Kostas Sierros
For Spring 2012 semester, Sierros will teach a new course, MAE 472 – Human Powered Vehicles: Design, Fabricate, Compete, concentrating exclusively on human powered transportation.
“We can’t rely wholly on cars and traditional types of transportation for much longer,” said Sierros. “I am inspired by new types of alternative transportation. This is my main interest.”
Persons interested in becoming part of the Human Powered Vehicle Club should contact Sierros at 304.293.3420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Dr. Kostas Sierros
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