Student Competition Teams Finish the Year Strong

Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Rose-Hulman competition teams wrapped up a year of hard work. Whether they scored points or won awards, competition teamwork prepares Rose students for the challenges and rewards they face as working engineers.

From fighting robots to concrete canoes and human powered vehicles, Rose-Hulman competition teams wrapped up a year of hard work. Many teams received high honors and placements as they took their projects to regional and national competitions. Other teams received valuable input and lessons learned for next year. Whether they scored points or won awards, competition teamwork prepares Rose students for the challenges and rewards they face as working engineers.  

Here are some highlights of the 2023-24 competition season.

Human Powered Vehicle Team (HPVT)
The Human Powered Vehicles Team (HPVT) focused on making a bike that was easy and intuitive to ride, comfortable for a variety of rider sizes (ranging from 5’8” to 6’5”) and had a great balance between speed and agility. They created a two-wheeled recumbent with a relatively high center of gravity and short wheelbase that was constructed from thin-wall Chromoly Steel Tubing and designed/built a Carbon Fiber fairing (aerodynamic shell) that would fit over the frame/rider. The bike — named Invicta — met all goals of agility and speed, with its ability to turn a full 180 degrees in only a 6-foot radius, and a top speed of well over 40 miles per hour.

In April, 16 students travelled to Liberty University in Virginia for the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) eFest eHPV Competition. The team won second overall and received the following awards: first place in drag race, second place in design, and third place in endurance race.

Robotics Team
The Rose-Hulman Combat Robotics Team has had a busy winter and spring quarter with two successful competitions. Combat robotics is a tournament-style sport with 1v1 matches, two robots are put in a bulletproof arena and have three minutes to fight.

In January, the group took 11 team 3-pound robots and one personal project 3-pound robot to National Havoc Robot League (NHRL) competition in Norwalk, Connecticut. NHRL is the “professional” league and has, by far, the highest level of competition. In a field of 98 robots, Rose-Hulman Robotics is very proud to have its top three robots place fifth, ninth and 17th.

In May, Robotics members took 10 team 3-pound robots, nine personal project 3-pound robots, one team one-pound robot, and three personal project 1-pound robots to the Battle in the Backwoods competition in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. Out of a field of 29 3-pound robots, Rose took both second and third place.

Rose Rocketry — NASA University Student Launch Initiative (USLI)
It was a huge year for our NASA University Student Launch team. The team successfully launched in Huntsville, Alabama, for the first time, flying to 4,302 feet above the ground. The rocket was made of carbon fiber (donated by Innovative Composites Engineering) and fiberglass, and launched on an L1390 rocket motor, which used the same fuel as the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters. The payload was a 5-pound deployable drone that used a custom-designed carbon fiber chassis. Unfortunately, the payload was not able to be flown; however, it was successfully retained in the rocket throughout the flight. Their altitude at 4,302 feet is very close to the goal of 4,500 feet. The results of the competition are announced in June.

Grand Prix Engineering (GPE) Team
The Grand Prix Engineering (GPE) Team continues to work toward competition goals and building a prototype for an electric vehicle to be competition-ready in 2025. The team has acquired its batteries, test equipment, tooling and safety gear for the electric vehicle and is currently working on getting the rest of its powertrain parts. Most of the design work will take place this summer so the team can hit the ground running with fabrication taking place the fall. 

Over the year, the team built a small scale, formula-style race car with the goal of competing in the Formula SAE Challenge in Michigan. Unfortunately, the team encountered a major engine setback the week before leaving for the competition. They made a heroic effort to rebuild the engine (many very late nights and early mornings were involved) before taking the car to competition in May. The car passed its technical inspection very quickly (which was quite an achievement) and ran a couple of events. Despite the setbacks, competition judges commented the design report was top-10 quality.

Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge
Each year, the Concrete Canoe team designs a new concrete mix that balances having a light density while also having high strength. They then make a mold to form the canoe shape and lay the concrete in two layers with reinforcement in between the layers on top of the mold, which then cures for four weeks (very much like watering a plant each day). Finally, the team adds finishing details such as the design on the canoe while also making the stands that will hold the canoe at the competition. This year’s competition theme was shark; so, the team named their canoe Bruce: the Sharkanoe. The stand included a shipwreck, anchor, shark spotted sign, seashells, and other shark themed items.

The Steal Bridge team designs a bridge and performs calculations to ensure it can hold the required weight. They then manufacture it by cutting, welding and machining all parts of the bridge. The team also waterjets many of the parts using Autocad, a 3D computer-aided design software application. Once manufactured, the team practices assembling the bridge with nuts and bolts before competition. At competition, the team competes to build the bridge in under 30 minutes and then strength tests it to see if it can hold 2,500 pounds.

The Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge teams compete at the IN-KY ASCE Symposium in April where they compete against schools from Indiana and Kentucky. The Concrete Canoe team completes a swamp test, which is where they see if the canoe floats. After ensuring it does float, the canoe is raced against other schools. They also prepare a report that explains the process of how the canoe was made, and they give a technical presentation.

Due to windy weather, the team did not get to race the canoe. Instead, it was judged on aesthetics, the report, technical presentation, and overall craftmanship of the canoe. The canoe team placed third overall out of 10 schools. Including in this overall, the team received second place in report, third in prototype (canoe), and third in technical presentation.  

The steel bridge was judged on numerous things such as aesthetics, time to build, strength testing, and cost analysis. The team placed third overall out of a total of seven teams. They also placed on several categories that make up the overall score, which included first place in stiffness and cost analysis.

Rose Propulsion Lab
This year Rose Propulsion Lab (RPL) was accepted into the Collegiate Propulsive Lander Challenge, a four-year long challenge to build a propulsive lander. The group spent their first year developing subscale engine technology while working to develop systems and components capable of the full 550-lbf bipropellant liquid rocket engine currently in development.

The Rose SmallSat team has made progress this year on key testing. Ground station communications infrastructure was successfully tested, and signals were received from actively orbiting satellites. A chassis was built for the satellite test bed that will fly on a high-altitude balloon test next year.