Kim Holder
Looking at the pedalling setup, i think they could make it past 1 minute just by positioning the cranks for more efficient engagement of large muscle groups, especially the hand crank. And adding toe clips. And did the pilot load up properly on caffeine first? Cuz that was just so close it hurts.
I may have my science wrong, but with a given blade shape, it is the speed of the air over the blades that provides more lift/thrust. so the faster you can get the air moving the greater the thrust. That being the case, why couldn't you have the pedal gears linked to smaller gear ratio, so when it gets to the blades(which could be a lot smaller and closer), with a gear-size step-down, they would be spinning significantly faster, generating more air flow. Additionally, if it was shunted through cone nozzles, it would concentrate the thrust even more. Have a few of these, perhaps 6 for lift and direction control, a gyro for stability, this would create a stable platform, easier to maneuver, much lighter, etc...
Alan Belardinelli
Though I respect the effort, I think that the engineering students should be going over to the closest college with a good wrestling program and finding the lightest, strongest monkey they can. Tell him the bet is a six pack and keep $249,995 for themselves...
Sarfraz Ahmad
The helicopter is powered by a single person pedaling with hands and feet, but still requires "spotters" to keep it under control for the duration of the 40 second flight. This video sums it up nicely
With any human powered flying machine, you look first for efficiency, not simply greater thrust. A large propeller rotating slowly is more efficient than the a small propellor rotating rapidly.
Secondly, it appears that the blades are mounted low to the ground so that they can operate in ground effect, where more thrust will be produced than at the same RPM but higher altitude (say 6 meters). It looks like being a long hard road from the altitudes so far achieved (0.3M?) to 6 M or more.
Kumi Alexander
That's not flight. It didn't even leave ground-effect. Also, the pedal setup is pathetic.
Lots of room for improvement here. These kids obviously knows nothing about cycling. And that's a big part of this project. The pedaling position is EXTREMELY INEFFICIENT. It's like those slow bikes old people ride. Recumbments. Also, these are college geeks so they have no fitness as to speak of. Get a cyclist from the college team to hammer this thing (dunno if the rules allows for this). Otherwise just get someone to train semi-seriously for 6 weeks. And also use clipless pedals for goodness sake (you can pull and push on the pedals that way). They'll break through the 1 minute barrier like nothing.
Fantastic and inspiring guys, keep up the great work!

Calling this ground effect machine a helicopter is stretching it quite a bit. It'd have to go 3x's the rotor dia in height and still ground effct would be 20% of lift or so. Here 90% of lift comes from GE.
Jay Finke
looks like it needs the ground effect big time to work.