Education & Technology Transfer Activities: 2003

University Student Design Competition Center (USDCC)




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Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Principal Investigator

Dr. Robert Stone, Ph.D.
Director, UMR Student Design Competition Center
University of Missouri-Rolla
112 ERL, 1870 Miner Circle
Rolla, Mo 65409

p(573) 341-47546
f(573) 341-44437


Student Involvement

The UMR Student Design Competition Center consists of eight student teams, comprising more than 150 active students in total. The teams include the following competition groups:

  • Steel Bridge, Concrete Canoe, Formula SAE Car
  • Solar Car, Solar House, Robotics
  • Advanced Aero Group, Human Powered Vehicle

Project Objective

Establish a fully-operational coordination office for the University Student Design Competition Center (USDCC). The goal is to establish a facility that would be consistent with a professional working environment or a corporate research and design entity. The coordination office will serve as a consolidated facility for the eight student design teams, the USDCC Director, Assistant Director, and the Manager. The office serves as a reference library of technical publications, the communications hub for students' internet research, and telephone and computer facilities to contact manufacturers, suppliers and donors. Each team maintains a consolidated records file, progress charts, historical performance data, and sponsor lists. Consolidation of multiple teams in one facility will enable the student groups to share information, copy the successful practices of the more-established teams, and prevent repetition of mistakes made in previous competition strategies. Faculty support and assistance (from the Director, Assistant Director and Manager) will be more consistently available to all teams located in one facility, instead of the teams being scattered in various offices throughout the campus. The renovated and re-furnished USDCC will serve as part of the university's "Million-Dollar Walk", a showcase for visiting alumni, prospective students, and potential corporate sponsors.


Anticipated Benefits

The USDCC offices serve as a meeting center for various design teams and team elements. Most teams are broken down into sub-groups or committees, such as solar car's body, chassis, suspension, battery, and array groups. Each group requires consistent, scheduled meeting facilities, where design groups can develop and refine all structural, aesthetic and electrical systems of the projects. A central facility allows each design committee to have full access to their team's files at any time, as well as maintain the organizational energy associated with having a consistently available meeting area. Shared computer facilities allow all eight teams to work with one fax machine and four computers, instead of a minimum of one computer, printer and fax in each of eight separate offices.



Project Start Date:1 January 2004
Project End Date:30 June 2004

Relationship to other Research/Projects

The Steel Bridge Team studies load-bearing principles of different bridge designs, and applies the lessons learned in intercollegiate competitions. This research complements work conducted by the university's Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies (CIES), which evaluates integration of composite materials to strengthen older highway bridges against seismic threats and the demands of higher traffic loads. This will make the students more aware of transportation issues, which may result in a change in the career interest on behalf of UMR graduates. The Concrete Canoe Team performs evaluations of various concrete materials and mixes to optimize strength, weight, and durability in its projects. These applications are directly applicable to transportation infrastructure studies, as the students become highly skilled in innovative structural materials. Human Powered Vehicle team makes heavy use of composite materials to replace traditional structural (steel or aluminum) components. Solar House is conducting research into non-petroleum-based foam products in residential insulation applications. This would be an application of work conducted by UMR's Center for Environmental Science and Technology (CEST) involving soy-based insulation. An additional aspect of soy products is the use of the husk material, normally disposed of as waste. Experiments are being run on substituting soy husk wastes for wood chips in the manufacture of oriented-strand-board (OSB) panels. Combining the soy-based materials with rigid soy-based foam insulation provides a renewable, structurally sound construction unit that creates minimal environmental impact. Formula SAE car, Human Powered Vehicle, and Solar Car teams have a direct correlation to transportation issues, as the transportation infrastructure (condition of roads and bridges) has a direct effect on the design criteria for the vehicles. Simply put, if roads are in poor condition, the teams must design a heavier, stronger vehicle to hold up to the physical stresses. The Solar House project has instituted the first Net-Metering facility served by Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU). Coordination between UMR and RMU provides the first application of net metering within the area served by the utility. Missouri approved net metering (purchase of excess PV power by local utilities) in 2003; the project has served has an initial test-bed for RMU in applying this technology.


Technology Transfer Activities

  1. Application of bridge designs
  2. Transportation issues (condition of infrastructure)
  3. Renewable resources (soy insulation and strand board)
  4. Effective energy management (low energy-demand housing)
  5. Passive solar design characteristics
  6. Solar (photovoltaic power source)
  7. Net Metering applications

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Composite materials, Bridge loading, Alternative construction materials, Recyclable materials, Energy management, Solar Energy, Passive Solar Design, Soy-based foam.