Put to the Test

For engineers, the drive to stick with a project for weeks, months or even years comes from knowing there will be a payoff at the end. The process involved with physically making an idea a reality is laden with success and failure. But through perseverance and ingenuity, challenges are overcome one-by-one, until the idea becomes a tangible thing that exists in this world. You can see it. You can touch it. And, sometimes, you can even drive it.

Springtime for engineering students at Ohio Northern University is competition season. Over the span of three months, the College of Engineering’s design teams tested themselves in competitions around the country against teams from around the world. Competition season officially wrapped up on June 12 in Rochester, N.Y., at the Baja SAE Rochester competition, the final Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Collegiate Design Series event for student-designed off-road vehicles.

For the ONU Baja team, Polar Bear Racing, the wait to see their vision fully realized is even more excruciating, seeing as Commencement was more than a full month before the final event. It’s a testament to these students’ commitment to their University and to each other that they put their summer plans, or in some cases their career plans, on hold to represent ONU on a national stage.

And represent they did.

Baja SAE Rochester is a massive event with more than 1,200 students comprising nearly 100 individual race teams from colleges and universities all over the United States. Teams from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and India also took part, giving the event global significance. In the midst of so much talent, ONU proved its quality by finishing 10th overall. In May, Polar Bear Racing competed in Baja SAE California. Again, the team performed admirably, finishing 13th out of 90 race teams. In April, at the first Baja SAE event in Tennessee, ONU finished seventh out of 94 teams, buoyed by a third-place showing in the endurance race competition. With these results, ONU has solidified itself as one of the Baja SAE teams to beat.

While some engineers love nothing more than the purr of a Briggs & Stratton engine, others relish the quiet elegance of machines that harness the power of people. The ONU Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) Team claimed fourth place at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) HPVC East in Athens, Ohio, from May 13-15. The team finished second in both the design and innovation events and seventh in both the men’s and women’s speed events.

ONU’s Concrete Canoe Team saw its patience tested as weather canceled the races of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2016 North Central Student Conference at Michigan State University. However, with all of these engineering competitions, there is more to them than just racing. Teams also compete on the merit of their overall projects. Even though the students didn’t get to race in their canoe, they did very well in this regard, finishing second overall. By the way, the payoff did eventually come at a victory celebration on campus when the team christened its canoe “Lionheart” in Neiheiser Lake.

IEEE competition teams earned strong finishes at the 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Region 2 Student Activities Conference hosted by Cleveland State University from April 8-10. ONU’s Sumo Robot team placed third in the sumo robot competition, in which teams construct an autonomous robot that fights to push an opponent out of a ring. ONU students also finished third in the Brown Bag competition, where teams are given a bag of various components and are then required to complete an engineering design challenge with some or all of them. And finally, ONU’s Project Showcase team successfully tested its creativity by combining the knowledge attained throughout their academic years with innovative ideas to improve an already existing design or project, or to create a whole new product, with a third-place finish.

Congratulations to all the College of Engineering students who represented ONU so well this spring.