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Human Powered Vehicle Team Pedals to Victory in ASME East Races

April 30, 2012

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Human Powered Vehicle Team once again showcased its legendary engineering skills, competitiveness and sportsmanship to earn first-place honors at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' East Coast racing competition on April 28-29 at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

           HPV team

East Coast Champions: Members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's team are once again tops among North American engineering colleges and universities in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering's East Coast Competition.  The team has now won eight of the past nine ASME east or west coast competitions.

This marks the eighth time in the past nine ASME competitions that Rose-Hulman has captured top honors. The team will go for a sweep of this year's racing events when it competes in the West Coast competition on May 4-5 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"It is an amazing accomplishment for the team to maintain such high standards over multiple 'generations' of students," stated team faculty advisor Michael Moorhead, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "This year's team is composed primarily of freshmen and sophomores, with only a few members remembering our earlier victories."

Rose-Hulman earned first place in the design portion of the East Coast competition, with the team's hybrid regenerative braking/electronic drive apparatus receiving second-place honors as this year's new innovation design feature.

When it came to racing, the team also stood out among the 29 competing colleges and universities, including top competitors from the University of Toronto, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Olin College (Mass.) and University of Central Florida.

This year's team leaders, Petras Swissler and Ethan Rockett
in 2011 discussing strategy, design, and other teams.

The top-seeded team of Crystal Hurtle and Claire Stark swept through the competition to win the female speed drag racing event.  Then, Patrick Woolfenden and Drew Robertson placed second to Missouri S&T in the men's speed event. Rose-Hulman showcased its sportsmanship by allowing their longtime rivals a chance to make mechanical repairs before the final double-elimination races. The team eventually won the first showdown, but lost an exciting winner-take-all sprint through the crowd-filled streets of Grove City.

This set up an exciting 2.5-hour endurance race through the twisty, narrow roads of Grove City's Memorial Park. Rose-Hulman had figured out it needed to finish among the top four teams to win the overall competition. Hurtle, Woolfenden, Robertson and Sam Throne navigated around several crashes to finish a strong third behind Missouri S&T and Olin College. 

"Our consistently strong performances, from the design competition through the endurance race, put us on top of the overall standings," stated Moorhead.

HPV racer       
Speedy Vehicle: Rose-Hulman's human-powered vehicle sprinted to first-place honors in the female and second place in the male races at this year's ASME East Coast Competition through the streets in Grove City, Pa.  

In another display of sportsmanship, Rose-Hulman team member Claire Stark volunteered to give Missouri S&T's team a female rider for the endurance race. The team's lone female drive was not able to complete her required minimum number of laps after being shaken up in a crash. 

"We gave up one of our team members for the only team that had a practical chance of beating us in the competition, and I'm pretty sure there was no soft-pedaling involved (by Stark)," stated Moorhead.

Not surprisingly, Rose-Hulman received the Sportsmanship Award for sacrificing certain victory in the men's drag race in the name of fair competition. 

This year's team was led by Petras Swissler, president; Ethan Rockett, vice president; Drew Robertson, treasurer; and Harrison Coons, public relations coordinator. Team members included Simon Burns, Erin Campbell, Jeff Dovalovsky, Ben Griffith, Crystal Hurtle, Steven Keltner, Maura Lakowski, Garrett Meyer, Melissa Murray, Matt Skorina, Claire Stark, Travis Tatlock, Sam Throne, Louis Vaught and Patrick Woolfenden.