Vehicle Challenge Brings Innovative Students to Industry’s Doorstep

The Vehicle Challenge has had another successful run — this year in Littleton, Colorado, hosted by Bimba, a part of IMI Precision Engineering, on April 11 and 12. Fifteen university teams from around the United States participated. And a huge snowstorm couldn’t stop any of them from getting to Colorado to compete.

The Vehicle Challenge is a competition that combines two technology platforms that are not normally associated with one another—human-powered vehicles and fluid power. Teams design and build their own fluid power vehicles and then compete against each other in three races with the help of NFPA industry sponsors, judges, and mentors. NFPA aims to strengthen the fluid power industry by increasing the number of students educated in fluid power and connect them to careers in the fluid power industry. The Vehicle Challenge helps accomplish this by making fluid power part of the senior capstone at more universities across the country and encouraging participating students to work with industry mentors.

“One of the great things about this event is that students have a direct connection to industry. They are having dinner with CEOs of major companies. Students do not overlook what a great opportunity this is,” said Scott Sawyer, faculty member and student advisor to the University of Akron team.

During the event, students give a presentation on their vehicle construction, testing, and lessons learned. Each team also meets individually with all of the industry judges who assess their vehicle design. Then they battle it out in three races – a sprint race, an efficiency challenge, and an endurance challenge.

This year’s champions are:

Overall Champion: Cleveland State University
2nd Place: California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo
3rd Place: Western Michigan University.

Other competition winners can be found here.

Many thanks to Bimba Manufacturing Company for hosting this year’s final competition event and also to program sponsors Eaton Corporation, Lube-Tech, Parker Hannifin, Source Fluid Power, and SunSource. We could not do this program without your generous support!

Thanks go out to our industry judges and mentors as well. Representatives from all of these companies gave their time and support to all of the university teams: Danfoss, Dura-Bar, FORCE America, Gates, Husco, HydraForce, Iowa Fluid Power, Trelleborg, and Woodward.

For more information about getting involved with the Vehicle Challenge, contact Lynn Beyer at or (414) 778-3364.

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