Students place in vehicle contest

Engineering students won third place Saturday at the Basic Utility Vehicle Design Competition for their BUV’s performance in Ohio.  Courtesy Photo
Engineering students won third place Saturday at the Basic Utility Vehicle Design Competition for their BUV’s performance in Ohio.
Courtesy Photo

Kalli Damschen
Staff Writer

A Baylor engineering student organization won third place at the annual Basic Utility Vehicle Design Competition hosted by the Institute for Affordable Transportation in Ohio on Saturday.

Baylor BUV is a student organization led by engineering students who design and construct a durable, efficient and low-cost Basic Utility Vehicle for developing countries.

“We’re comprised of a group of engineering students with the mission of building a durable, low-cost, efficient Basic Utility Vehicle that could be used in Africa for people who need transportation,” said Flower Mound junior Sarah Johnstone, president of Baylor BUV.

A BUV is a simple vehicle designed specifically for use in developing countries, where many people have limited access to transportation. It is able to traverse rugged terrain and is designed to be inexpensive, low weight, easy to operate and easy to maintain. BUVs may be used for medical, farming or construction purposes, or they might be used to distribute water or transport children to school.

“It is a humanitarian vehicle that is supposed to be extremely cheap and reliable, that people in Africa could use to drive through very rough terrain with a pretty substantial amount of weight in the bed of the truck,” said Houston junior Lucas Stafford, vice president of Baylor BUV.

The members of Baylor BUV used 3-D software to design the BUV last semester and spent approximately two months this semester assembling the vehicle.

Baylor BUV received financial support from the engineering department and from local businesses in order to purchase tools and materials and to fund the trip to Ohio.

During the competition on Saturday, members of Baylor BUV raced their vehicle (affectionately named “Betty”) on a muddy track through the rain while transporting barrels filled with roughly 1,300 pounds of water. Muddy and forested land was meant to mimic the terrain of countries in Africa. Baylor’s vehicle was the only one out of 11 that didn’t get stuck in the mud.

Judges scored the participants on a points-based system, taking multiple factors into consideration.

“It’s based off design,” Johnstone said. “It’s based off durability, where you place in the race and how much water you carried.”

Baylor BUV placed third in the competition, even though it wasup against many teams who have already been competing for years.

“To have been able to build the car, to get it to Ohio, to get it through the race, to have it last the whole day, and then to place third is just outstanding,” said Dr. Douglas Smith, associate professor of mechanical engineering and advisor of Baylor BUV.

Smith said he hopes the competition will become an annual event for Baylor BUV.

IAT is a nonprofit organization that strives to facilitate community transportation in developing countries by designing useful and affordable BUVs. These vehicles can improve the mobility of impoverished people, potentially increasing access to markets, services and other opportunities. IAT has been hosting its annual design competition since it was first founded in 2000.