Northern Illinois University

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NIU engineering students Luke Ivaska (seated) and John Harkness, prepare their three-wheeled ambulance for competion
NIU engineering students Luke Ivaska (seated) and John Harkness, prepare their three wheeled ambulance for competion.

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News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

May 30, 2006

NIU team takes fourth
in ambulance design competition

DeKALB, Ill. – A team of four students from the Northern Illinois Univeristy College of Engineering and Engineering Technology finished fourth in the recent Basic Utility Vehicle competition hosted by the Institute for Affordable Transportation.

The event, held in Indianapolis, challenged teams of engineering students to create affordable, easily maintainable vehicles that have 95 percent fewer parts than the average car and that can last for up to 20 years under the demanding conditions found in Third World countries.

This year’s contest specifically focused on designing an ambulance. The NIU entry was the only one presented by the 12 participating teams to meet all of the ambulance requirements. The NIU team also received an award for having the most innovative suspension design.

“We were delighted to finish fourth in this grueling competition,” said Andrew Otieno, the NIU professor of engineering technology who advised the team. “This was the third year we attempted to compete, but last minute breakdowns have always stopped us in the past. Hopefully we can build upon this experience in future competitions.”

Finishing ahead of NIU were teams from Purdue University, the University of Dayton and the University of Cincinnati.

The Institute for Affordable Transportation, which is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is dedicated to improving living standards and enabling economic growth in the developing world by creating simple vehicles that can be assembled almost anywhere, by almost anyone. The IAT has held competitions to design vehicles for use in farming, construction, water distribution and as school buses.

Members of the NIU team were Charles Matthews, of Ottawa; John Harkness, of Lisle; Luke Ivaska, of Romeoville; and Chad Conley of Chicago.