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Engineering for opportunity

Mizzou BUV team President Matthew Miller takes a dry run in the stripped-down ambulance that will enter competition April 29 in Indianapolis, Ind.

The newest College of Engineering competitive car has three wheels, a top speed of 20 mph and headlights attached to its roll bar.

That may be just what it takes to win.

CoE’s Basic Utility Vehicle team will pit its simple car against the stripped-down designs of 10 other university teams in the sixth annual BUV Design Competition on April 29, in Indianapolis, Ind. The contest, sponsored by the Indianapolis-based Institute for Affordable Transportation, aims to generate designs for low-cost vehicles that can provide mobility and opportunity to impoverished areas throughout the world.

“Doing this as an engineering project is taking what we learn in class and using it to give a gift to someone who doesn’t have all the things we have,” said Mizzou BUV team President Matthew Miller, a senior in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “There’s a certain humanitarian aspect.”

BUV team members also relish the unusual engineering challenge the competition represents.

Team member Tim Colyer, a senior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, said the contest’s focus on cost efficiency and functionality calls for an open-ended planning process.

“You don’t really design any one thing to perfection,” Colyer said. “You just try to get the whole system to work.”