Hey, you there! You should join the Olin Human Powered Vehicles team! (abbreviated HPV, but remember friends, "vehicles not viruses")
HPV is one of the many project teams on Olin's campus, amongst such others as Sailbot, Baja, REVO, and Aero. We build bikes. Well, bikes, trikes, monowheels...you name it. Last weekend, we took five days off to drive to Florida for the ASME HPVC East competition at UCF in Orlando. (The driving took up almost 3.5 out of the 5 days - Massachusetts and Florida aren't that close.)
We raced the vehicle we'd been designing and building since the beginning of the semester: Cheryl, a recumbent, fully faired tricyle (Fairing is the aerodynamic structure around the trike to reduce drag).
We competed in events such as the women's and men's drag races (short speed sprints) and a 2.5 hour endurance race of laps around a course with obstacles, as well as a design and design innovation presentation. Cheryl and Olin did incredibly well: of the 36 teams in attendance, we took third in design, third in women's drag, fourth in men's drag, and third overall, as well as winning the team spirit award. We won that final award for the perseverence and dedication the team showed even when things got tough. In the final half hour of the endurance race, the bolt holding the rear axle of our trike sheared in half when we went over a speed bump, and the vehicle was out of commission. Not to be put out of the race, Kari picked up the bike to run the laps for the remainder of the race. And the rest of Olin's team, in an amazing display of camraderie and and Olin spirit, race with her along the sidelines cheering her on. Five other teams had broken bikes, but from what I saw, none had the rest of the team running with them until they saw us.
Reasons why you, as a prospie or future student, should join HPV:
1. Building bikes! I'm not even a MechE and I love it. It's a great way to get fun engineering experience outside of classes. Designing and machining is a great thing to know how to do no matter what your major is.
2. Learning how to build bikes! Maybe you read that first point and thought "Wow, I don't know how to build a bike; I can't possibly join this team." Fear not, the coolest part is that it's entirely a learning experience, and a fun one at that. I had no idea how to build a bike a year ago. This spring, I was on a subteam composed entirely of freshmen to design and build our ski/skate attachments that let the trike ride on snow and ice.
3. Making friends in other classes. Because trust me, once you spend 40 hours in a car with people, you get to know them pretty well.
4. Olin is a unique gender-balanced engineering school, and our HPV team has an uncommon 2:1 F/M ratio. One of the requirements of racing is having a female rider in the endurance and drag races, and some other schools don't have that, so they "borrow" female riders from teams like Olin. I think we had a total of four women on our team biking on another bike. It's fun because it gives an opportunity to bike the course and see what another team designed.
5. Obviously, going to Florida is pretty exciting. Transitioning from 50 degree heat to 85 degrees sure was nice.