Roe, Riley, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Smith, Natasha, Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

In the past thirty years, America and the world have recognized a need to move to alternate sources of transportation and energy, in order to protect against climate change. My technical research was to study, design and manufacture one of these alternate sources of transportation: a human-powered vehicle. Through my STS research, I analyzed the policies and infrastructure surrounding human-powered vehicles and the main aspects of society that could prove to help or hinder this technology as they become more prominent in cities. The goal in my technical research and my loosely coupled STS research is to analyze human-powered vehicles and their benefits to the environment and American society through increased diffusion of the technology. Both aspects of my research revolve around the human-powered vehicles and how they can be made to benefit society.
My technical research of designing and manufacturing a human-powered vehicle is meant to be a part of a competition put in place by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The vehicles are built by small groups of college students like our UVA team of seven students. We are faced with the task of making the vehicle safe and efficient as well as innovative in order to further the technology. Proving that these vehicles can be advanced in even small ways by fairly new engineers helps to show that this technology is not all that complicated. Furthermore, human-powered vehicles are inexpensive modes of transportation that are good for the environment.
The technical capstone was unable to compete in the racing competition due to COVID reasons. However, all teams submitted a design report and the UVA team placed third in America. Furthermore, the human-powered vehicle has been manufactured most of the way, even if it is not complete yet. The vehicle stands and moves on its own and meets all of the competition standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The processes that go into designing and manufacturing a product were placed in perspective, and the alternate transportation technology is better appreciated by everyone on the team.
The STS research revolved around human-powered vehicles and how they may fit into American society. Furthermore, it was important to consider why these vehicles may not be currently fitting into American society. On top of societal factors, I determined that America was slow to adopt human-powered vehicles because of our poor infrastructure. In order to prove this thought, I researched several other countries that have high rates of human-powered vehicles. Furthermore, I looked into the policies and safety standards that are in place in America as well as in the rest of the world.
I found that infrastructure was one of the key points of many cities that allow human-powered vehicles to prosper. In areas like Holland and Tokyo, where human-powered vehicles make up over forty percent of transportation, the government has invested heavily in the infrastructure. On the other end of the spectrum, America invests very little and has some of the highest fatality rates for users of human-powered vehicles. This statistic would make sense if we had a high rate of human-powered vehicles, but Americans are the least likely to use human-powered vehicles and the most likely to travel the shortest distance in a day. Other countries have supported their human-powered vehicles and reaped the benefits of reduced pollution, traffic, and obesity, while America struggles with its weak infrastructure.
Human-powered vehicles are a cheap and efficient way to travel short distances mostly, but they can also be used over long distances. It is clear that if they are supported through infrastructure and other policies then they can benefit many people. Furthermore, their design can be quite simple and yet still innovative for the needs of a specific area.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Infrastructure, Vehicle, Efficiency, Drivetrain

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Natasha Smith
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Joe Flynn, Kavi Patel, Lauren Weis, Ryder Sadler, Skyler Moon, Trevor Marchhart

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