PVAMU’s entry in the 2011 United States Air Force 4th Annual Lone Star Challenge looked slightly surreal churning across the hilly rock-strewn clump of New Mexico desert last month with its human pilot and a tiny payload trailer in tow.Team leader Breona King, protected by a safety helmet and knee pads, aimed the highly modified Segway X2 Personal Transporter (PT) up the steep unpaved slope, hoping to top the hill with 75 pounds of military-style cargo, including an assault rifle. The mini-hauler performed crisply, but ran out of raw pulling power before cresting the hill, leaving the PVAMU senior design team with second place in the annual competition.
Prairie View teamed with Tennessee State University (TSU) under the Minority Leadership Program (MLP) component to compete head-to-head against similar student teams from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University at College Station. Dr. Kendall T. Harris, dean of the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering, was elated with the team’s exceptional showing in the competition with UT and TAMU. “The competency of our students is totally impressive and shows the caliber of work carried out at PVAMU when compared with some of the most highly-recognized engineering institutions in the state,” said Harris, who also predicted that, “Next year, we will bring home the gold.”
“This is a very significant and happy moment for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department,” echoed Dr. Warsame Ali, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and manager of the faculty team that guided the university’s senior design class in the concept and construction of the all-terrain vehicle they named Integrated Panther Segway Device (IPaSeD).
Prairie View’s design was based on inventor Dean Kamen’s Segway PT, a two-wheel battery-powered device Kamen claims is the first self-balancing two-wheel human transporter. To that powered unit, the team added side rails, affixed a miniature trailer and made other design modifications. The competition, staged at Kirtland Air Force Base outside of Albuquerque, was won by The University of Texas, but only by the narrowest of margins. Dr. Ali said judges noted that the MLP team and Texas University were locked in a competition-long battle for first place honors in the overall design competition until top award finally went to UT. The Aggie team finished third behind PVAMU.
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