The NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge is based on an initiative pioneered by Parker Hannifin Corporation. This STEM competition challenges college engineering students to redesign a traditional bicycle using hydraulics as the mode of power transmission. This year, we have twelve university teams that will participate in the final competition, which will take place in April. This competition is a great way to connect with some very creative students who are learning about careers in the fluid power industry.
I recently found out that one of the advisors of these teams participated in Parker’s Chainless Challenge when he was a senior in college. I asked him about his experience as a student and as an advisor. Here’s what he had to say:
As a senior student at Murray State University in 2012, I completed and went to California for Parker Hannifin’s Chainless Challenge competition. My team won 2nd place overall, winning the drag and efficiency races and placing 3rd in the circuit race. Creating the bike was an exercise in patience, troubleshooting, research, and creativity. Most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge I acquired throughout my college career. As an advisor to a team in the NFPA Vehicle Challenge, I realize the importance in letting the students take the project on their own with limited back fall from their professors. As always, I remind them that I can be a resource for second opinions, but I will rarely make quantitative arguments for one option over another. Rather, I will simply verify the math and give them suggestions as to what they might consider researching. I feel that by providing just enough support to prevent failure, but giving them enough room to try some of their own ideas, they will be more prepared for solving real-world problems that they might be faced with outside of school.
-Bryant Harrison, Lecturer, Murray State University
Thanks to all of the Vehicle Challenge sponsors: Danfoss, Parker Hannifin, SunSource, Eaton, and Lube-Tech.