Engineering students win national green vehicle competition

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of Jian He, Ryan Kamm, Brandon De Young and Saleem Hinton.

BroncoBike team (from left): Jian He, Ryan Kamm, Brandon De Young and Saleem Hinton.

KALAMAZOO--A group of engineering technology students from Western Michigan University has won the inaugural Human Assisted Green Energy Vehicle design competition sponsored by the Parker Hannifin Corp.

The competition featured an initial phase to determine the quality of the participating schools' designs and a concluding phase April 12-13 in Irvine, Calif., to test how well those designs perform.

The four-member WMU Broncos team and their BroncoBike entry finished among the top three in nine out of the 10 criteria used to judge the competition, capturing five first places on its way to winning the overall event.

WMU bested 11 other teams from schools including the universities of Cincinnati, Illinois and Minnesota as well as California Polytechnic State, San Luis Obispo; Case Western Reserve; Northwestern; and Purdue universities. Minnesota came in second overall and Cal Poly third.

WMU's team, all seniors, consists of:

  • Jian He, an engineering design technology major from Battle Creek, Mich.
  • Brandon De Young, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Kalamazoo and Decatur, Mich.
  • Saleem Hinton, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Saginaw, Mich.
  • Ryan Kamm, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Ada, Mich.

Their faculty advisors are Drs. Alamgir Choudhury and Jorge Rodriguez, both associate professors of industrial and manufacturing engineering.

The Human Assisted Green Energy Vehicle competition calls on teams of up to five undergraduate and graduate students to design a vehicle that transfers the rider's manual power to the driving wheel through the use of a hydraulic fluid rather than a chain or other direct-drive mechanism.

Design quality is evaluated based on seven criteria: ingenuity and novelty, reliability and safety, manufacturability, marketability, workmanship, design report, and cost analysis. Design performance is evaluated based on three criteria: a 200-meter sprint race, an efficiency race and a 10.8 mile endurance race.

First-place finishes for WMU's 2012 team include:

  • Reliability and safety
  • Workmanship
  • Cost analysis
  • Design report
  • Endurance race (tied with Cal Poly)

Parker Hannifin, the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, sponsored the contest annually from 2005 to 2008 as the Chainless Challenge. The company reinitiated the event and broadened its scope for the 2011-12 academic year, creating what is now a human-assisted, green-energy vehicle design competition and moving the concluding phase to Irvine.

WMU has participated in every version of the contest. The University won the championship in 2007 and earned a second place in 2008.

For more information about the Human Assisted Green Energy Vehicle design competition, contact Alamgir Choudhury at or (269) 276-3357.