Vehicle Challenge

The Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge is a unique engineering design competition embedded 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 15 universities participated in the fifth year of the NFPA Vehicle Challenge:

  1. California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, CA
  2. Cleveland State University – Cleveland, OH
  3. Iowa State University – Ames, IA
  4. Kennesaw State University – Kennesaw, GA
  5. Michigan Technological University – Houghton, MI
  6. Milwaukee School of Engineering – Milwaukee, WI
  7. Murray State University – Murray, KY
  8. Northern Illinois University – Dekalb, IL
  9. South Dakota State University – Brookings, SD
  10. University of Akron – Akron, OH
  11. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH
  12. University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Lafayette, LA
  13. University of Utah – Salt Lake City, UT
  14. West Virginia University Institute of Technology – Beckley, WV
  15. Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, MI

This year’s program expanded to support two separate Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge competitions in an effort to reach more students and industry members. Michigan Technological University and Cleveland State University took Overall Champion in the events hosted by Norgren and Danfoss Power Solutions.

This year’s events also highlighted the use of pneumatics and electronics in addition to the traditional hydraulic systems in teams’ designs. The prize for Best Use of Pneumatics, sponsored by Norgren, was taken home by Murray State University and Milwaukee School of Engineering. The prize for Innovative Use of Electronics, sponsored by Iowa Fluid Power, was taken home by Iowa State University and California Polytechnic State University with teams from multiple other universities placing competitively in the program’s additional award categories. 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 Pascal Society donors to the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation.

Contact Info

6737 W. Washington Street, Suite 2350

Milwaukee, WI 53214

(414) 778-3344 (o)

(414) 778-3361 (f)