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An engineering team from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., took second place in a national competition for designing basic utility vehicles, or BUVs. Intended for use as high-quality, low-cost transportation for the working poor, BUVs could make a big impact in the developing world.

The basic utility vehicle (BUV) built from salvaged automobile parts by a Calvin senior design team placed second in the recent 2007 BUV Design Competition sponsored by the Institute for Affordable Transportation.

Calvin finished just 1.1 points behind a team from Northern Illinois University, but ahead of third-place Purdue University.

The Calvin BUV was built by four mechanical engineering students: Steve Buys from Denver, Colo.; Rob Lindquist from Dayton, Ohio; Scott Saxsma from Highland, Ind.; and Matt Korthuis from Lynden, Wash.

“We were really proud of how we did, and it was a lot of fun for us all,” says Korthuis of the competition, which took place this year in Indianapolis.

 In retrospect, the team feels that a better set of tires might have given them a win. Their second place finish did earn them a trophy, tickets to the Indianapolis 500, and “sweet hats and plastic cups.”

The Calvin team topped the competition in the judge’s drive, the endurance test, the acceleration test, the mogul field, and both written and oral presentations.

The BUV was designed not only for the contest; the four students also submitted it as their senior design project, the culmination of their Calvin engineering education.

The four chose their project after learning about the contest from the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) website. The IAT is a not-for-profit public charity devoted to developing high-quality, low-cost transportation for the working poor in the developing world.

This is the seventh year the institute has held the contest to inspire new design ideas for the multipurpose BUVs for Africa and Latin America.

For more information, see

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