South Dakota State University Continues its Winning Streak at ASME E-Fest West

April 12, 2019

South Dakota State University (foreground) was the overall winner at the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) at E-Fest West last month in Pomona, Calif.

Following up their successful runs at the ASME Engineering Festivals (ASME E-Fests) last year, South Dakota State University continued its domination last month at the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC). Once again, the team was named the overall winner of the HPVC at E­-Fest West, which was held March 15-17 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. The student competition was one of several that were hosted at E-Fest West, along with regional rounds of the Student Design Competition, the Old Guard Oral Presentation and Poster Competitions, and the IAM3D Hovercraft Challenge.

More than 550 engineering students, educators and guests attended E-Fest West, which was co-located at the Fairplex with the STEAM Fair — an interactive event intended to introduce K-12 students to the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. ASME was one of the exhibitors at the lively event, which drew more than 20,000 children, parents and other visitors from the surrounding areas.

In addition to finishing first overall at the HPVC at E-Fest West, the team from South Dakota State University placed first in the men’s and women’s drag races, first in the endurance event and third in the design category.

The team from South Dakota State, which placed first overall in the HPVC events at the two E-Fests held in the United States last year, resumed their winning streak last month in Pomona. The team was not only the overall winner of the HPVC at E-Fest West, it also placed first in the men’s and women’s drag races, first in the competition’s two-and-a-half hour endurance event and third in the design category.

Other teams making impressive showings at the HPVC included the University of Akron, which placed third overall, first in the design category and third in the men’s drag race and the endurance event; Missouri University of Science and Technology, which placed second in the men’s drag race and third in the women’s drag race; and California State University, Northridge (CSUN), which took second place overall as well as second place in the women’s drag race, the endurance event and the design category. The team from CSUN also won a special “Sportsmanship Award” for generously lending three of their female riders to the team from the community college American River College from Sacramento so that they would meet the qualification requirements and be able to participate in the competition.

California State University, Northridge received the $500 top prize at the Student Design Competition at E-Fest West last month.

“When we met [the American River team members], we told them, ‘It won’t be the fastest, but you won’t be disqualified either because you need a female rider,’” said Nairi Keshishian, one of the female students from the CSUN team who volunteered to ride for the American River College team. “We did try our best for them [because] we’re here not to just compete but to also have fun and make friends.”

CSUN also fared well at another high-profile ASME student competition, the Student Design Competition (SDC). This year’s SCD challenge, “The Pick-and-Place Race,” tasked teams of students with designing and constructing remote-controlled devices that could quickly collect an assortment of balls of different sizes from their stands and place them in a collection area without the balls hitting the ground. At the end of the daylong event, the team from CSUN emerged as the winning team, receiving the $500 top prize. Colorado School of Mines placed second, receiving $300, while the team from Utah State University took home the $150 third-place prize.

Seth Friesen (far right), a member of South Dakota State University’s IAM3D Hovercraft Challenge team, describes his team’s entry to some visitors from the STEAM Fair, an event for K-12 students that was co-located at the Fairplex with E-Fest West.

Matthew Muhlinghause of the University of Oklahoma was the big winner at the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition, which is designed to emphasize the value of being able to deliver clear, concise and effective oral presentations. Muhlinghause was selected as the winner of the competition’s first prize and received $750, as well as the $100 technical prize. The $400 second prize went to Claire Teklitz from the Colorado School of Mines, while the $200 third prize went to Jared Lugo from San Jose State University.

Other prize winners at the competitions at E-Fest West included South Dakota State University, which won the $250 first prize at the ASME Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D (IAM3D) Hovercraft Challenge; the team from Arizona State University, which placed second in the competition and received $150; and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which won the $75 third prize.

(Left to right) Keynote speaker Danielle Richey with ASME Executive Director/CEO Tom Costabile at the opening day reception at E-Fest West.

In addition to the exciting student competitions, E-Fest West also encompassed a number of other interesting and informative workshops and sessions featuring speakers from such companies as Altair, COMSOL, Siemens, Boeing and Igus.

One particular highlight of the festival was the keynote luncheon featuring Danielle Richey, a systems engineer and space exploration architect from Lockheed Martin, who discussed the future of human space exploration. During her engaging presentation, Richey noted that commercial space travel will be especially important in regards to further exploration of the moon since space agencies have begun to focus more on Mars, as evidenced by the current NASA InSight mission. “I get excited about seeing those first footsteps on Mars,” Richey said. “That will be in our lifetimes. It’s coming.”

Danielle Richey, a systems engineer and space exploration architect from Lockheed Martin, discussed the future of human space travel during the E-Fest West keynote luncheon.

Richey also talked about NASA’s proposed Gateway, a lunar outpost for deep space exploration intended to serve as a communications center, laboratory, temporary habitation module, and storage area for rovers and other devices. “It’s definitely a waypoint to the universe,” she said.

Richey’s presentation, which elicited a number of questions from riveted students in the audience, was a big hit with E-Fest West attendees, including Jade Cutter, a student from Tacoma Community College in Washington. In addition to the keynote session and the other speakers at the event, Cutter said she was impressed with the various competitions at the festival, particularly the HPVC and the IAM3D Hovercraft Challenge. “In general, the competitions were really cool,” she said, adding that they were a good way for members of the different student teams participating to get to know each other. “I enjoyed myself,” Cutter said. “It was worth flying all the way down here.”

For more information on the ASME E-Fest programs, visit