Vehicle Challenge

The Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge is a unique engineering design competition embeded in the capstone design course at participating universities. It strives to promote original thinking in a competitive setting by combining technology platforms that are not normally associated with one another —human-powered vehicles and fluid power.


  • Stimulate education in practical hydraulics, pneumatics, and sustainable energy devices for motion control.
  • Provide students with experience in real world engineering under a strict timeline of designing, simulating, ordering, building, testing and demonstrating their designs.
  • Stimulate innovative thinking for designing and testing potential new technologies or concepts integrated into a vehicle platform.
  • Provide an industry recruitment opportunity for high potential engineering seniors by engaging directly with practitioners in the field.

Student teams from 9 universities participated in our inaugural Vehicle Challenge in 2017:

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL
  • Murray State University, Murray, KY
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • University of Akron, Akron, OH
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

The team from Purdue University won the overall competition, with teams from multiple universities placing competitively in the program’s other award categories, including best paper/presentation, best design, best workmanship, and the program’s three head-to-head competitions: a sprint race, efficiency challenge, and an endurance challenge. Many student participants admitted that the Vehicle Challenge was their only exposure to fluid power in their four-year engineering curriculum, greatly underscoring the need for this program.

Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge Community

The Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge Community is the volunteer structure tasked with mentoring, coaching and judging the student teams participating in the Vehicle Challenge. Its membership includes major donors to the NFPA Foundation, including those at the Gold and Silver levels of the Pascal Society. Six companies sent representatives to the 2017 event to act as competition judges and to meet the student participants in person.

  • Bimba Manufacturing
  • Danfoss Power Solutions
  • Gates Corporation
  • Iowa Fluid Power
  • Parker Hannifin
  • SunSource

Contact Info

6737 W. Washington Street, Suite 2350

Milwaukee, WI 53214

(414) 778-3344 (o)

(414) 778-3361 (f)