Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

John Fabijanic


This report discusses the Human Powered Vehicle Frame Design senior project’s contributions to the design, manufacture, testing, and competition of the Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Club’s 2015 vehicle, Sweet Phoenix. The project’s guiding rules and timeline were dictated by the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC), held in April 2015. The Club sought to improve upon its previous vehicle, Aria, which suffered from a range of faults including a catastrophic structural failure at the 2014 HPVC. Largely in response to this failure, the Frame Design project’s major focus was Sweet Phoenix’s frame, from concept to manufacturing. During the design process in the Spring and Fall of 2014, several other issues were tackled in order to define the frame’s design parameters. These secondary efforts included the fairing shape, vehicle stability requirements, handling characteristics, and rider ergonomics. A handling prototype was constructed in late Fall 2014, which successfully validated the solutions to these secondary requirements before the final design was constructed. Ultimately, Sweet Phoenix’s frame is a hybrid design – a composite monocoque fairing to which several weldments are mechanically fastened. The team used extensive finite element analysis to evaluate structural properties for both of these frame subsystems during the final development stages. Sweet Phoenix was produced during the Winter quarter of 2015, with much physical help from the HPV Club members and financial support from several sponsors. The production effort was quite successful, in part thanks to two significant manufacturing improvements – sponsored out-of-house machining of the fairing tools, and a frame-to-fairing alignment jig. The vehicle’s construction quality was recognized at HPVC with a “Best Craftsmanship” award. Testing of the final vehicle revealed very low stiffness of the weldments’ fairing mounts, which was resolved by adding additional bracing locations to the fairing. In addition, the team discovered several drivetrain-related issues that were attacked with numerous attempted solutions, but were not solved prior to HPVC. The drivetrain also contributed to localized delamination of the fairing near a chain idler pulley mount. Unfortunately, these drivetrain issues resulted in several broken chains and poor performance in the acceleration-heavy Endurance Event at HPVC. On the other hand, Sweet Phoenix placed 1st in Design and Men’s Sprint, both satisfying results for the Club, and the Frame Design project was an overall success.