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Students build scooter

Monday, October 10, 2011

Students with the scooter they designed and manufactured

From the left, Milan Thapa and Benam Shreshtha with the scooter they designed and manufactured for Xcel Energy

"Real-life projects can open doors to new career opportunities for students," said Yongli Zhao, an assistant professor in the Derpartment of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Under Zhao’s supervision, three undergraduate students, Prabal Dangol, Benam Shreshtha and Milan Thapa, designed and manufactured a battery-operated foldable electric scooter for Xcel Energy.

Xcel is a Minneapolis-based electric and gas utility that serves customers in eight states.

The special scooter was built to allow Xcel engineers and technicians to inspect their 6- to 7-feet diameter concrete tubes that are used as a form of drainage system. Earlier, the Xcel employees had to inspect these slippery tubes on foot which was not only time-consuming but also at times, dangerous.

To seek a solution to this problem, in August 2010, Xcel came to the University with a proposal to manufacture a foldable electric scooter. With funding from Xcel, Dangol, Shreshtha and Thapa embarked on designing and manufacturing this special machine that has a 10-hour battery life, can hold at least 300 pounds and is equipped with a lamp.

"The students did everything from scratch. They designed, drew mechanical drawings and then manufactured this scooter," Zhao said. "It was a nine-month-long project, which started in September 2010 and was completed in May 2011."

"This scooter is a reflection of the University’s contribution to meeting the needs of local companies. Such an opportunity is also valuable to students as they graduate and enter the professional world," Zhao said.

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