Fluid Power Journal

Michigan Tech Wins NFPA Vehicle Challenge

A screenshot of a Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge networking session.

By Michael Degan, Fluid Power Journal Editor

Michigan Technological University won the overall champion prize in the National Fluid Power Association’s 2021 Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, which took place virtually April 7-9.

California Polytechnic State University took second place, and the University of Cincinnati came in third.

This year’s challenge highlighted pneumatics in addition to traditional hydraulic systems. Murray State University took home the prize for best use of pneumatics.

Norgren hosted the competition. A second virtual competition takes place April 14-16, hosted by Danfoss Power Solutions.

The Vehicle Challenge competition combines two technology platforms not normally associated – human-powered vehicles and fluid power. Teams design and build their own fluid power vehicles and then compete against each other in three races. Students also give presentations on the vehicle’s construction, the quality of the design, and describe the lessons they learned along the way.

Students were helped by NFPA mentors and industry sponsors, which included Bimba Manufacturing, Iowa Fluid Power, and SunSource.

Michigan Tech’s prize-winning bike.

Michael Ecker-Randolph, a Vehicle Challenge participant and a fluid power club president, said the contest encouraged creativity.

“Because it is competition-oriented, there are guidelines that the team must follow, but there is still a lot of creative freedom,” he said. “This project has definitely expanded my knowledge in the fluid power field, and I have learned a lot from it thus far.”

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