About a decade ago, Parker Hannifin launched its Chainless Challenge, which tasked college engineering students with creating a chainless bicycle that was powered by hydraulics or pneumatics.
In the past year, The NFPA took over the event, dubbed it the NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge and honed its program to make it a workforce development program and encourage new universities to join in the competition. The program is designed to support teams of undergraduate students (through a senior capstone design project or even through extracurricular development) as they design and manufacture a fluid powered vehicle without the use of chains or belts.
This year, nine teams are participating in the program — California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, Cleveland State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Murray State University, Purdue University, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Western Michigan University.
The NFPA was successful in getting more manufacturers involved in the event, as it will be held at Danfoss’ headquarters in Ames, Iowa April 20-21. Over the last several years, the event was held in Southern California. Other sponsors include Parker Hanninfin, SunSource, Eaton Corp. and LubeTech.
Team mentors also come from a number of new companies, including Chevron Lubricants, CNHi, Danfoss Power Solutions, Deltrol Fluid Products, Enfield Technologies, Gates Corp., and Parker Hannifin.
The goal of the event is to use fluid power technologies (accumulators, cylinders, valves, etc.) to:
- Stimulate education in practical hydraulics, pneumatics, and sustainable energy devices for motion control.
- Provide students with experience in real-world engineering under a strict timeline of designing, simulating, ordering, building, testing and demonstrating their designs.
- Stimulate innovative thinking for designing and testing potential new technologies or concepts integrated into a vehicle platform.
- Provide an industry recruitment opportunity for high-potential engineering seniors by engaging directly with practitioners in the field.
The NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge is made possible through support of the NFPA’s program sponsors, and through the Silver and Gold-level donors in the Pascal Society of the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation.