How To Build A Better Bike

Published on Friday August 5, 2005

"It's a good challenge," says rising materials sophomore Doug Markgraf about balancing cycling and school work. Markgraf is currently the only materials engineer, and the first, on the Drexel University Cycling Team.

Formerly known as the Drexel Fat Tire Club, the team's mission is to "promote cycling inside and outside the Drexel University community." Drexel Cycling is a member of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, participating in races almost every weekend in the spring and fall. Each person on the team partakes in an average of four races per weekend. Competitions take place all along the northeast coast.

To train, Markgraf cycles close to 100 miles per day to gear up for both road and mountain biking competitions.

Not surprisingly, Markgraf's interest in materials science and engineering stems directly from his love of cycling. "I was interested in what kind of materials are used in making different types of bikes," says Markgraf.

When looking at colleges, Markgraf immediately looked to Drexel. Both of his grandfathers received their engineering degrees from the university and his family lives in the area. A good materials department and the cycling team sealed the deal.

Throughout his freshman year, Markgraf worked with materials professor Dr. Michel Barsoum on a fuel cell project. This summer, he continued to perform research with Dr. Barsoum on synthesizing MAX phase materials.

Anticipating spring 2006, Markgraf looks forward to his first co-op. He hopes it will engage him in real world hands-on engineering experience and teach him more about what engineers do. In the future, Markgraf plans to be at the center of new materials research that will help the environment and humans in general.

Cycling also remains a key component of Markgraf future. My advice to anyone who wants to try it out is not to hesitate. If you have an interest in cycling and you want to get involved, go for it. The same could be said for materials engineering research.

For more information on the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, please visit For more information on Drexel Cycling, please visit this LINK.

Tagged as Michel Barsoum