Kennesaw State Hydraulic Bike Team wins first place in national competition

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 29, 2024

Hydraulic Bike Team
The culmination of several months of hard work, Kennesaw State University’s Hydraulic Bike Team bested nine other universities en route to a first-place finish at the 2024 Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge Competition.

Held in Denver, Colo., the annual competition is designed to promote original thinking in a competitive setting by combining two technology platforms that are not normally associated with one another—human-powered vehicles and fluid power.

Teams are challenged to build a hydraulic bike, which uses a pump and motor to propel the bike forward. By pedaling the bike, fluid is pushed toward the hydraulic motor, which spins a drive shaft and generates forward motion. Adorned in the traditional black and gold, KSU’s bike was built with three wheels, which allow students to utilize heavy hydraulic components that are not typically used on standard bicycles.

“Competing was one of the best moments of my life,” said Stefan Glende, team captain and mechanical engineering student. “It was so cool to meet our peers at other universities and to see how they designed their vehicle. It was equally rewarding to see our work pay off by hoisting a trophy in the end.”

The team, composed of Glende and KSU students Austin Arnold, Avery Garrett, Brandon Tomaskovich, David Amaya, and Matthew Fierro-McCarthy, beat prominent engineering schools including California Polytechnic State University, Texas A&M University, and Michigan Technological University.

Hydraulic Bike Team
In addition to being named grand champion, KSU won first place in several categories, including the efficiency race, the endurance race, the use of pneumatics, and the final presentation.

The team began constructing its bike in August when the students initially designed their hydraulic and pneumatic circuits. Over the course of a few months, they worked diligently to refine their unique vehicle design, and were operating during the nights and weekends, and over spring break.

Mechanical engineering faculty members Dr. Laura Ruhala and Dr. Richard Ruhala mentored the students on project management and technical decisions throughout.

“We are incredibly proud of the team for multiple first place finishes,” Laura Ruhala said. “It’s exciting for us as co-advisors to see how the students have grown as a team and as future engineers.”

– Story by Ana Johnson

Photos by Darnell Wilburn

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit