April 12, 2005
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s Mechanical Engineering design team finished in fourth place during a recent American Society of Mechanical Engineers competition in Grand Forks, N.D.
Each of the 23 teams from universities across the country was challenged to build a remote-controlled vehicle that could carry rice up three steps and dump the grain into a container. The team that dumped the most rice in 10 minutes won.
The competition reflected a real-world engineering challenge. Companies everywhere have difficulty transporting bulk materials in moderate amounts, particularly when the materials must be carried up stairs or over hills and rough terrain, or when the space available for moving the materials is too small to allow conventional automotive vehicles to be used.
The School of Mines vehicle moved on tracks, and through commands sent through an umbilical cord, lifted onto each step to the dumping station.
The School of Mines team: Brandon Hinz (Mechanical Engineering, Lakewood, Colo.), Kirk Phinney (Mechanical Engineering, Ree Heights) and Blaine Wilkinson (Mechanical Engineering, Box Elder).
Also during the American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference,
Cutline: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology students (from left) Blaine Wilkinson, Brandon Hinz and Kirk Phinney finished in fourth place during a recent mechanical engineering design contest.
The premise for the competition was developed by Engineers Without Borders in that there is difficulty in transporting moderate amount of materials up stairs or in rugged terrain. The design concepts generated would allow the transportation of materials to areas that are not accessible by standard automobiles. The competition was to design a small vehicle to demonstrate the design concepts, which could then be scaled up to an actual bulk material transporter. The size of the vehicle was not to exceed 25 X 25 X 30 cm and be powered by a maximum of 30 volts using 8-standard AAA, AA, C, or D batteries and 2-9V batteries.
The steps the vehicle had to climb were daunting compared to the vehicle size at four inches, and was equivalent to a Hummer H2 climbing a 5-foot-9-inch wall.
The vehicle the team designed was remote controlled and ran on 8-C batteries. It could carry on average about 3.5 lbs per trip and made a total of 7 trips in the 10-minute time period delivering a total 25 lbs of rice. Each trip took just a little under 1 min 30 seconds. In comparison the winning team transported a total of 56.5 lbs of rice. This competition is important for students because it gives them a real-world problem with societal implications that they can apply what they have learned to design and build a vehicle to meet the requirements. In addition, students learn the value of teamwork by breaking up the project into different areas and being responsible for their part of the project. This team worked well together in terms of staying coordinated with one another and bringing the whole system together a full two weeks prior to the competition. This allowed them two weeks of practicing before the competition. In terms of advancing technology, Engineers Without Borders will assess the different design concepts, which could then be applied to a larger scale bulk material transporter.
The ASME design contest is different from year to year. These are difficult problems and not all the teams who enter have a vehicle/device that is capable of competing. Some are disqualified as they have not adhered to the rules of the competition. I am very proud of the team on how they worked together, the commitment they made to completing it two weeks prior to competition, and how they represented SD Tech at competition. The last time a SD Tech team was capable of competing was back in 1999 to my knowledge, but they were disqualified because their vehicle tipped over. The last two years teams entered the ASME design competition, but were not capable of competing. So a 4th place showing in well over 6 years is remarkable and SD Tech should be proud of the team as well.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.