Twenty-six students from Michigan Technological University (MTU) logged over 5000 hours in a two-year design and rebuild process for their entry in a supermileage race promoting fuel efficiency. Aramco was a sponsor of the MTU team with representatives from the company’s research center in Detroit on hand to cheer them on.
The annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition is an international collegiate-level competition with teams competing from as far away as Lebanon. They gather at a race track in Marshall, Michigan to showcase their automotive engineering skills.
What started with 30 entries ended with a little more than a dozen vehicles making it onto the track after having to pass a series of technical inspections and design judging.
"It's really quite important for us to sponsor MTU and STEM activities,” said David Cleary, head of the Aramco Research Center-Detroit, who came to observe the race. “Hands-on applications like this seek to improve transportation efficiency and reduce emissions---two concepts that are incredibly important, not just for today, but for decades to come.”
Innovative features of the MTU vehicle included a brand new carbon fiber composite body, a driver heads-up display (HUD), a high-compression engine with lean calibration, a thermal blanket, and an on-board oxygen sensor for closed loop operation.
For this, the team earned first place in the vehicle design category, earning a score of 410 out of a possible 500 points. This was the second year in a row for MTU to garner top accolades for their design.
In the overall competition, MTU placed 10th with some difficulties on the track making it impossible to complete a full mileage run. “Despite our struggles on the track, every student has furthered their learning and professional development through an experience that simply cannot be duplicated in the classroom,” said Rick Berkey, Advisor, Supermileage Systems Enterprise, MTU.
Berkey and team have pinpointed issues that will be resolved and incorporated into MTU’s design entry in 2020.
The competition is one in a series of four races, each related to a different aspect of the automotive industry. Aramco supports a total of 150 MTU students on the different teams and hosts a MTU intern each year.