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Chainless Challenge Stimulates Innovative Solutions and Practical Experience

Parker's 2015 Chainless ChallengeEngineering students from across the United States once again accepted the challenge to create a novel solution to develop a human assisted, fluid power vehicle travelling on two, three or four wheels without using a traditional mechanical chain drive system. Teams representing nine universities entered the eighth annual competition held at the Orange County Great Park (the former El Toro Marine Base) in Irvine, California, April 9, 2015.

Over the years, participating universities have developed a body of knowledge to continue to improve the designs submitted by their schools as they learn about the intricacies of motion and control design. Implementing the design and development of a working prototype gives students practical experience and the discipline of learning to complete a project on time and on budget.

A student from Murray State participating in the competition for the first time commented, “Now that the initial experience is under our belt, we are ready to take back the trophy next year!”

Parker facilitates the competition by providing expert engineering assistance, funding and products to assist the student teams in building their vehicles, including pump/motors, accumulators, valves, hoses, fittings and biodegradable fluid.

“After almost three decades of educating engineering students, I must admit that the learning experience gained by working on the Chainless Challenge Project is second to none,” offered Majid Rashidi, Ph.D., P.E. Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State University.

Parker's 2015 Chainless Challenge

In addition to recognition for categories spanning best paper, presentation, originality, reliability and safety, manufacturability and workmanship, design, and cost analysis; three events are held to test the design of each hybrid bicycle. Identified as the sprint race (with team partnerships), the efficiency challenge, and a time trial, this aspect of the competition is the ultimate proof of concept for each participating team. Monetary awards are given to the top four finishers in each category and race; with some of the funds designated for students and some directed to the university to fund future Chainless Challenge competitions. 

“The Chainless Challenge provides a platform for Parker to engage some of the most promising engineering students from across the United States by introducing them to our technology and providing career opportunities to graduates,” noted Sandy Harper, Parker Corporate Technology Liaison Manager and Chainless Challenge Organizer 2012-2015.

This year’s participating universities included: CalPoly San Luis Obispo, Cleveland State, Illinois Institute of Technology, Murray State University, Purdue University, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, and Western Michigan University.  Of eleven universities that fielded a design team funded by Parker, only nine were ready to make the trip to California to compete. On race day, only four chainless bikes completed all the events. CalPoly claimed the top spot this year taking the travelling trophy from last year’s winner Murray State.

2015 Chainless Challenge Winners

  • Best Overall – CalPoly San Luis Obispo
  • Best Paper, Presentation, Midway Review – University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
  • Best Sprint Race Time – Murray State
  • Sprint Team Partner – University of Cincinnati and University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
  • Efficiency Challenge – CalPoly San Luis Obispo
  • Best Time Trial – CalPoly San Luis Obispo
  • Best Design Chosen by Peers – University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
  • Cost Analysis – Western Michigan University
  • Innovation – Purdue
  • Manufacturability & Workmanship – University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
  • Reliability and Safety – CalPoly San Luis Obispo


Related Content:

Chainless Challenge: A Hydraulic Bicycle?

An Adult Tricycle Wins the Chainless Challenge Race

Chainless Challenge Inspires Engineering Student Creativity

Parker’s Chainless Challenge Prompts Innovative Approach to Vehicle Mobility


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