Drawing 75 students and professors from nine universities, Parker’s 7th annual Chainless Challenge competition took place at the former El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, California, April 9-11. Of 11 universities who accepted the challenge, just nine were able to develop working prototypes that were ready to compete in the final demonstration. Each participating university is given the engineering design challenge of developing a human assisted, fluid power vehicle travelling on two, three, or four wheels that is powered without using a chain. Over the years, participating universities have developed a wide variety of hybrid bicycles while learning about the details of motion and control design. The development of a working prototype gives students practical experience with the discipline of completing the project on time and on budget.
This year, nine hybrid bicycles were entered into the competition. Participants included the University of Cincinnati, the University of Minnesota, Case Western Reserve University, Western Michigan University, Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign, Murray State, the University of Akron, and Purdue University. Cleveland State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo had developed a design and prototype vehicles, but unfortunately, the bicycles were not operational at the time of the final demonstration. Parker maintains strong relationships with these leading institutions to influence the curriculum offered within their engineering programs and supports engineering labs at each of the participating universities.
A new event added this year was the Sprint Team Partnership. For this challenge, two teams are paired together on the first day as the teams are uncrating and conducting safety inspections on their bicycles. The Sprint Race times for each team are added together for the new award category. In addition, Parker added a category for Best Design Chosen by Peers, wherein each team votes on the top designs from all the schools, but can't vote for their own. Both new awards stimulated discussions and collaboration among the teams.
“I wanted to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting and organizing The Chainless Challenge,” said Murray State University Engineering Student Bryan McCoil. “It means the world to me to have been a part of this project and a part of this team and I know this competition would not have been possible if it wasn't for all of your hard work and your dedication to it over the years. I would not be at the level that I am today in my engineering skills or my teamwork skills, if it hadn't been for my involvement in this project, so I just wanted to say, with all of my heart, thank you.”
Murray State claimed the top spot as the Overall Winner this year, taking the travelling trophy from last year’s winner, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. Parker supports the development process for the Chainless Challenge by providing expert engineering assistance, funding and Parker products to assist the student teams in preparing their vehicles, including pump/motors, accumulators, valves, hoses, fittings and biodegradable fluid. A total of $34,000 was awarded to engineering departments and students at winning universities. With the prize money split between the top four places in each category, the first place teams were:
- Overall Winner – Murray State
- Best Paper, Presentation, Midway Review – University of Illinois
- Best Sprint Race Time – Murray State
- Sprint Team Partner – Murray State & University of Minnesota
- Efficiency Challenge – Murray State
- Best Time Trial – University of Minnesota
- Best Design Chosen by Peers – Purdue University
- Cost Analysis – University of Cincinnati
- Innovation – Purdue University
- Manufacturability & Workmanship – Murray State
- Reliability and Safety – University of Cincinnati
The Chainless Challenge enables Parker to engage many of the brightest engineering students from across the United States to introduce them to our technology and career opportunities.