April 18, 2016

Contact: Amy Hewes 

Cal Poly Wins ‘In a Clutch’ at National Chainless Challenge

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A clever clutch design allowed Cal Poly to coast to a victory in the Efficiency Challenge, one of three “proof of concept” race events at the ninth annual Chainless Challenge, held April 5-7 in Irvine, Calif.

The Chainless Challenge has produced various forms of hybrid bicycles propelled by fluid power rather than traditional spoke and chain mechanism. Engineering students throughout the U.S. take on a variety of challenges to advance the development of human-assisted, fluid-power vehicles traveling on two, three or four wheels without using a mechanical chain drive system.

Cal Poly also placed first and second in the sprint and time trial races, respectively. The race scores, combined with scores in the categories of design, innovation, workmanship, reliability, safety and presentation, resulted in a third-place finish for Cal Poly overall, behind the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Purdue University.

Cal Poly’s team included mechanical engineering majors Megan Buck, Grace Cowell, Benjamin Kraw, Jeffrey Powell and Emmett Ross.

“The team’s clutch design was a major feat,” said Cowell. “We designed the clutch in hopes of winning the Efficiency Challenge, since that’s a race where you’re not allowed to pedal the bike and can only rely on the charged accumulator (an energy storage device) to move fluid through the bike to push it forward. The clutch we developed allows the rider to disengage the gear from the back wheel, enabling the bike to coast without moving fluid through the system.”

The event is hosted and funded by Parker Hannifin, one of the largest companies in the world in motion and control technologies, and the National Fluid Power Association.

Cash awards totaling $20,000 were given to the top four finishers in each of the events, with some of the funds designated for students and some directed to the university to fund future Chainless Challenge competitions. The Cal Poly team received $3,350.

This year’s participating universities also included Cleveland State University, IIT, Purdue, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Western Michigan University.

Photo info: Chainless.jpg — Pictured, left to right, Mechanical engineering students Jeffrey Powell, Grace Cowell, George Leone (technical staff advisor) and Emmett Ross. Not pictured: Megan Buck and Benjamin Kraw.

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