College Team Creates Vehicle With More than 2,000 Miles Per Gallon Range for SAE Supermileage Competition

This past week 23 collegiate teams from the U.S. and Canada competed in the 36th annual SAE Supermileage competition. The contest was sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and held in conjunction with power management company Eaton at their Proving Grounds in Marshall Michigan. The event is part of SAE’s effort to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Teams in the Technical Inspection Phase – Photo by D Muyskens

Each team of students had to build a single occupant, one-cylinder, four-cycle engine. Given the strict criteria, it was then up to each team to use their ingenuity and design skills to assemble an aerodynamic and extremely fuel efficient vehicle.

Concordia Univ thinks thru the issues     K Colwell Eaton

Concordia University troubleshoots their vehicle – photo by K Colwell Eaton

Hosted by Eaton since its inception in 1980, the Supermileage event is designed to generate public awareness of high-mileage fuel economy and to promote automotive engineering as a career choice for students. Participants are encouraged to use advanced materials and technologies, as well as their design creativity and imaginations, to get the most out of their vehicles over the 9.6-mile course – six times around Eaton’s 1.6-mile test track.

 D Muyskens

Competiting autos sharing the track to test their fuel economy – photo by D Muyskens

Participants are scored on two categories: the vehicle’s miles per gallon (mpg) and a Design Report score. The winning team at the first Supermileage competition achieved 558 mpg, which is still an astonishing record more than 30 years later. This year, the participants from Université Laval from Quebec, Canada, received a total score of 2,453 after achieving 2,098 miles per gallon and receiving a Design Report score of 355 (their winning design is our featured image).

Laval 6

The winning automobile built by Université Laval from Quebec, Canada achieved 2,098 miles per gallon.

“The students are so impressive with their ingenuity and creativity. What they accomplish year after year with this competition is truly amazing,” said Staci Kroon, president, Eaton Vehicle Group. “The Supermileage competition helps these students develop practical engineering, team building and leadership skills they can use to succeed in their careers, including making tomorrow’s cars and trucks more fuel efficient.”

The College of New Jersey ready for fueling – photo by K Colwell Eaton

Although Eaton promotes a STEM education with their contest, we should not forget about the artistic aspect of designing a hypermiling machine. We’ve discussed the importance of incorporating Art within the STEM curriculum, and I believe it should be no different here. With regards to automobile design, I believe a car should not only be functional, but aesthetically pleasing. The Supermileage Competition pushes the boundaries of  a car’s efficiency, inspiring the engineers of tomorrow.

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