Human powered vehicles are gaining in popularity.

There's even an International Human Powered Vehicle Association and human powered speed championships.

Engineering students who take part in the University of Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers are getting into the competition, and honing their skills by building their own HPVC.

"This is our main bread and butter as far as hands on engineering experience," said Sabrina Ball, president of the UA ASME.

The first vehicle designed and built by the ASME team is constructed out of steel and can travel at speeds of around 30 mph, using gearing and pedals, like those found on bicycles. Their particular design, Ball said, is meant for stability rather than speed.

"This is a two-wheeled recumbent style, where two wheels are in the front and one wheel is in the back," she said. To build a faster bike, the vehicle would need to have two wheels in back and one in the front, she added.

Each year, the team plans to build a new HPVC, applying what they learned the previous year to the new design. They will then enter that year's vehicle into the annual Human Powered Vehicle Challenge to test its metal against competitors from other universities.

"Besides design aspects, there is also an obstacle course where you go around as many laps as you can...without breaking down, as well as a sprint where you try to get the fastest time after passing these speed traps," said Dustin Huynh, Secretary of the ASME and a competition vehicle rider.

The fastest time on record for a human powered vehicle is 83 mph, clocked by a Danish university team in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nev.