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Supermileage Team Builds New Vehicle from Ground up and Finishes 9th at SAE Competition

Supermileage Team


At the 37th annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition on June 9 and 10, the UMass team finished a very credible 9th place, out of 20 teams, by hitting 463 miles per gallon on the 9.6-mile course at the Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. See competition website.

“This year's car is significant in that it is the first entirely new (engine, chassis, body, etc.) car we have built in many years,” said Robert Daniello, the team’s faculty advisor in the Mechanical and Industrial (MIE) Engineering Department. “I believe the old chassis ran in different configurations for more or less five years. It’s been even longer since both engine and chassis were new in the same year. This [entirely new vehicle] was necessitated by a rules change to the base engine required for competition.”

The supermileage competition provides engineering and technology students with a challenging design project that involves the development and construction of a single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle. Each vehicle is powered by a small, one cylinder, four-cycle engine. All competition vehicles run the same specified course. The vehicle obtaining the highest combined mpg rating, with design points figured into the calculation, wins the event. Students have the opportunity to set a world fuel economy record and increase public support for fuel economy.

The UMass supermileage vehicle is the end result of a two-semester MIE course to create a streamlined, fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly car capable of competing in the famous SAE contest, which has been run since 1980. Some 22 MIE students from this course helped conceive, design, and build the vehicle, and eight were selected to travel to Michigan for the big competition. The team received $2,500 from L-3KEO (formerly Kollmorgen) to help with the endeavor.

“This year's car incorporates significant use of carbon fiber, a new aluminum frame, a new unique powertrain design, several new engine upgrades, and better on-board vehicle monitoring,” explained Daniello. “This result was only possible through the hard work of many of our students, who built this year's car entirely from scratch. The vehicle was well received in Michigan and passed the detailed technical inspection easily on the first attempt.”

As MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty told Daniello, “Congratulations to you and our team for a fine performance. It is a tremendous success given that the car was built from scratch this year. As you have stated, the future teams can now build on this new vehicle and reach higher pinnacles.”

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

SAE International is a global association with more than 138,000 member engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial vehicle industries. Eaton’s partnership with SAE in Supermileage stems from its broad portfolio of technologies designed to improve the efficiency of specific systems and a vehicle’s overall fuel economy. (June 2016)