Project Nevada: Plymouth University Goes for Land Speed Record in Nevada

Forget your fast cars and questionable acting performances. Plymouth University has a different need for speed. Namely to smash the land speed record at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC) in the heat of Nevada this September. You may be able to help them, just like SOLIDWORKS has…

Going for gold…

It might look like some celestial spacecraft from a sci-fi film, but it’s actually the handcycle that Plymouth University have designed with the hope of powering towards prestigious land speed records at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC) this September. The West Country university’s engineering department is going for gold in the female category – and has recruited a renowned local athlete to help them.

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Few are as experienced with handcycling – a major Paralympic discipline – as Sarah Piercy. A former winner of the London Marathon, she will be required to pedal a significantly shorter distance at the WHPSC as she attempts to top a speed of 24.76mph along the 200-metre track.

To break records, you have to be headstrong – but not like you think.

This is not your run-of-the-mill handcycle. To hit world-beating speeds, you have to design something extraordinary. Aerodynamics are crucial. Plymouth University’s engineering team is confident its teardrop-shaped vehicle has significantly lower drag than that of previous record-breaking vehicles.

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That’s required some savvy design. For starters, Piercy will steer the vehicle with their heads (You read that correctly). The position of the rider and steering system has been meticulously designed to enable each rider to generate maximum power as they chase their record-breaking speeds.
How did SOLIDWORKS help?

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From testing in 2015, the team at Plymouth University knew their handcycle was fast – but fast means nothing when your dream is to be fastest. The university’s engineering department has used SOLIDWORKS’ Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations to optimise the aerodynamics and reduce drag to the bare minimum. It made it easy for the students to accurately simulate how airflow would affect the performance of their handcycle – right there in SOLIDWORKS, without the time and cost of developing, testing and reworking prototypes.

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Can you help?

The team at Plymouth University are seeking corporate funding to give their project wheels and make the world-record dream a reality. Any business that gets involved with the adventure will have their logo emblazoned on the side of the world’s most futuristic-looking handcycle. If you are interested visit

To read the original Cadtek article, click here.
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Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.