Friday, May 6, 2016

Alfred State: BUV team ties for first in annual competition

For the third time, the Alfred State Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) Team came out on top in a national competition.
The team tied with Purdue University for first place in this year’s intercollegiate BUV Design Competition, sponsored by the Institute for Affordable Transportation and held April 23 in Batavia, OH. In addition to its three first-place finishes, Alfred State’s BUV team has also come in second four times since first entering the completion in 2006.
The contest is a combination of a race and manufacturing design competition. For building a highly efficient pumping system, which was almost twice as fast as any other team’s, Alfred State was recognized with the Most Innovative Award.
This year, the competition involved producing a vehicle capable of operating in rough rural terrain and hauling up to three 55-gallon drums full of water. The event was primarily concerned with endurance, as the teams had to pump water from a pond to fill the three drums and negotiate three laps over a rugged 2.2-mile course including changes in elevation and plenty of twists, turns, and mud.
Upon completion of the three laps, the teams then had to empty the drums and refill them and repeat the exercise. Each lap was worth 10 points and each full drum was worth five points per lap.
“It was evident from the beginning that the contest would be won by either Purdue or Alfred State,” said Dr. Edward Tezak, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department. “Purdue had the fastest vehicle, but the Alfred State team made up ground at the pond with more efficient unloading and loading of the water.”
During the first three laps, the Alfred State vehicle sheared a critical bolt dealing with the steering. A makeshift repair using a screwdriver in place of the bolt seemed to be a temporary fix, according to Tezak.
Then on the fifth lap, the vehicle developed a fuel issue and lost almost a lap to Purdue. Over the next few laps, the steering quick fix failed twice more and finally the team figured out a way to use two pairs of vice grip pliers to hold the steering together for the remainder of the competition.
“The Purdue vehicle broke down about half an hour before the competition ended,” Tezak said. “However, a shive shifted in our vehicle and the belt drive on the pump came off right after emptying the drums. The team could not reload the drums then.”
Since they could get points even without hauling water, the team decided to run dry and get more points and possibly catch up to the Purdue vehicle. However, Purdue managed to get rolling again before being caught by Alfred State.
“At first it appeared that Purdue had won the event, but they were assessed a 20-point penalty, which resulted in a tie,” Tezak said. “Had the event lasted five more minutes, the Alfred State team would have completed its last lap and won by 10 points.”

l-r: R.Gleason, E. Tezak, R. Rousseau, W. Easterly, K. Jones, M. Rogers, and J. Haveron
Alfred State BUV team members who competed this year included mechanical engineering technology students Mitchell Rogers, of Troupsburg; Robert Rousseau, of Hyde Park; Kyle Jones, of Ransomville; William Easterly, of Brewerton; and James Haveron, of Falconer. The team was accompanied by Tezak and Academic Support Technician Ray Gleason.
In addition to Alfred State, the other major competitors were Purdue University, Baylor University, two entries from the University of Cincinnati, and Trine University. Baylor and Cincinnati tied for third place in the competition.
“Rob Rousseau did a great job with his ‘field fixes’ of the steering system, and Mitchell Rogers gets the credit for the outstanding high-speed water pumping design,” Tezak said. “It was an afternoon of emotional highs and lows, but I am really proud of the team and how the members came together and just would not give up.”
Students agreed that each person’s talents and skills were utilized to create a winning BUV, and that the team, despite the challenges they faced, never once gave up.
“We all chipped in and did what we had to do to finish the competition, Rogers said. “My teammates are great guys and this competition was like no other.”