Purdue students to show 'motorized street luge,' other inventions

April 28, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University mechanical engineering students have conceived and constructed innovations including a motorized street luge, a jet-powered surfboard-like creation and an automatic transmission for bicycles.

The students will display their works during the School of Mechanical Engineering Thomas J. & Sandra H. Malott Innovation Awards competition on Friday (April 29).  More than 30 senior design projects will be on display from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the ground floor of the Mechanical Engineering Building. First- through third-place, honorable mention, and judges choice award winners will be announced at 2 p.m.

"The students really used their imaginations and engineering skills to design and build a variety of interesting products," said Ray Cipra, a mechanical engineering professor and one of five faculty advisers for the senior design classes.

The projects include:

* The motorized street luge, designed to enable riders to enjoy uphill, downhill, and extended flat sections of road, along with the ability to handle sharp turns and brake without using their feet. The vehicle can reach 20 mph on flat ground, climb a 10 percent grade and support a rider up to 225 pounds.

* An adaptive headlight system for off-road vehicles controlled by movement of the driver's helmet.

* A demonstrator model to assist in understanding a new type of hybrid car technology that would store energy while a car is braking by compressing hydraulic fluid in a tank, or "accumulator." Then the high-pressure fluid in the accumulator would be used to drive a hydraulic motor, providing torque to the wheels and saving fuel.

* A wireless sensor connected to the ankle of musical performers that allows a guitarist to control the "wah" effect without being constrained to a physical pedal on stage.

* A "Wakejet," or a jet-powered water-recreation board requiring no assistance from boats and having the ability to carve and maneuver like current wakeboards. A wakeboard is normally towed behind a motor boat, shaped like a broad waterski and ridden like a surfboard. 

* An automatic continuously variable transmission, or CVT, for a bicycle "to eliminate discrete steps in gear ratio in order to maintain the ideal human cadence."

* A "bladeless water craft propulsion" using a unique water induction system, which will reduce wake, eliminate safety concerns, and operate in vegetation-filled water.

The students completed the project in one semester.

The senior design teams were advised by faculty members John Nolfi, Ray Cipra, Issam Mudawar, Monika Ivantysynova and Xiulin Ruan.

Writer:  Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Sources:   Ray Cipra, 765-494-5724, cipra@purdue.edu

                    John Nolfi continuing lecturer, 765-496-7869, nolfijg@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Video b-roll and sound bites may become available. For more information, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-494-6262, jschenke@purdue.edu