By Joseph Recinos
Gearing up for the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge for the fourth year in a row, the East Los Angeles College engineering club will compete from April 12 to 14.
The Challenge will be hosted by NASA Ames Research Center and San Jose State University at the NASA research center in Moffett, CA.
The HPV challenge is an event where students build human powered vehicles to demonstrate their understanding of sound efficient engineering and design.
The team of Husky engineers which is comprised mostly of freshmen is hopeful for the competition, with their eyes set on placing fifth place or better, according to Albert Venegas a three year veteran of the HPV challenge.
The ELAC engineers are the only group in the competition that is representing a community college.
In the 2012 competition, Missouri University of Science and Technology placed first and California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo placed second while the ELAC team came in 12th.
In the past, the ELAC engineers have competed with a vehicle called the Elander versions 2.0 and 3.0.
This year, they plan on combining both machines and turning them into their new and improved human powered vehicle called Laika.
The name “Laika was derived from the Russian spacecraft Sputnik II, the second spacecraft to go into Earth’s orbit. This spacecraft was the first to carry a mammal into space. That animal was a Husky mix breed named Laika,” said Jose Ramirez, Engineering Department adviser.
“Laika is a Husky, but it is also (a) mutt. Laika is the mutt version of Elander 2.0 and 3.0,” Ramirez said.
According to Ramirez, the team, which is only on its fourth year of existence, is mostly freshman, which means that a lot of the veterans have either transferred of graduated, will focus more on getting the team into shape for next year. The main goal is to integrate the team, teach and expose them to the competition. Also, getting improvements done to Laika for the following year.
The events are judged on a series of criteria, like design, innovation, analysis, testing, safety and aesthetics, plus a few events like men and women strength and endurance.
According to Venegas. “The ELAC engineers have slowly climbed up the ranks of the HPV competition and have gained the respect of their peers.”