Cal Poly’s Prototype Vehicles (PROVE) Laboratory is presenting Limitless: The Process of Innovation, a display of prototype vehicles that can reshape the future of transportation “without a rulebook” from April 11-July 7 at Robert E. Kennedy Library.
The PROVE Lab is an interdisciplinary organization that gives Cal Poly engineering students the opportunity to develop zero emission vehicles for practical use — or breaking world records.
Arts management and library exhibits curator Catherine Trujillo started working with the PROVE Lab because of their inspiring and eye-catching projects, she said.
“One of the things that I’ve always liked about this exhibit program is that we showcase the unexpected,” Trujillo said. “I had imagined the unexpected as having vehicles in the library — which I guess was a little challenging because we can’t have anything combustible.”
The members of the PROVE Lab are fond of the unexpected, too. Their mission statement is to “invent the future of transportation — without a rulebook,” and they try to ensure their projects represent that. This is one of the advantages that the PROVE Lab has, according to aerospace engineering sophomore and Gravity Car Project Manager Aaron Li.
“We’re about renewable energy vehicles that can still break records, and we do so, as our mission statement says, without a rulebook. We try to innovate in ways that other people can’t or won’t because of their rules,” Li said.
The exhibit features prototypes for three of the PROVE Lab’s rule-bending projects, including an electric endurance car, a human-powered submarine, and a gravity-powered racer. Each project will also be accompanied by their process components — “behind the scenes stuff,” as Trujillo called it.
“What this exhibit is about is their process. Within process, there is failure, and within failure, there is success because you learn from your mistakes,” Trujillo said. “We’re hoping that is what the exhibit showcases: Students are challenged by a goal, and they have to iterate, iterate, iterate until they have that successful project.”
On the second floor of the Kennedy Library, the exhibit is hard to miss with its glowing iridescent models to life-size cardboard car replicas. Mechanical engineering junior and Endurance Car Project Manager Brian Menard said he and other Lab members are prepared to turn heads for the next few weeks.
“I’m excited for everyone else to see what we’ve been working on,” Menard said. “Due to the nature of our team not working in the hangar, we’re kind of secluded from other engineering clubs. I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to show everyone what we’ve worked on and promote PROVE Lab.”
But, most importantly, Trujillo said she sees the PROVE Lab exhibit as a demonstration a philosophy that any student can learn from.
“Everyone cares about the environment,” Trujillo said. “What these students are experimenting with are actual ways that we can address climate change with zero emissions. There’s an underlying way to learn about what we can do to have a positive impact on the world like these students are doing through engineering.”