MSOE students wowed the judges at the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge competition in Ames, Iowa at Danfoss Power Solutions. The task is simple: build a fluid power propelled vehicle to crush the competition—but it’s not easy.

This competition is usually taken on by a group of seniors for their Senior Design project. This year, however, there were not any seniors available to participate in the competition. Dr. Luis A. Rodriguez, associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and faculty advisor for the Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, still wanted MSOE students to compete, so he assembled an extracurricular team.

The team started with eight students and dwindled down to a mighty team of three students: Jeff Kaas, freshman, management; Daniel Cantu, sophomore, mechanical engineering; and Brandon Janes, junior, mechanical engineering. With a lot of hard work and support, the young team evolved from having zero experience with fluid power to taking home three different awards at the competition.

MSOE’s mighty team of three was awarded third place in the Sprint Race, second place in the Regen Race, and received the Judge’s Choice Award for Meritorious Achievement by Underclassmen. The Judge’s Choice Award for Meritorious Achievement by Underclassmen was created on the spot by NFPA to recognize the incredible achievements of Kaas, Cantu and Janes. It also included a monetary award of $1,000 for the students. Rodriguez is proud of the growth and advancements the students made during the competition. “Our team competed with a field of competitors dominated by college seniors. Some teams even consisted of returning students who had prior experience in the challenge,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and the team are grateful for the support of their industry mentor and partner. “I also want to express our incredible gratitude to IFP Motion Solutions Inc. for supporting us throughout the year and providing valuable advice. We could not have asked for a better Industry mentor and partner this year. Special thanks to Jim Kaas, Josh Scarbrough and Chandlar Armstrong ’19.”