Students Compete to Build Fuel Efficient Cars

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

With gas prices in Michigan hovering around $4.29 per gallon, how does a car that can get up to 1,000 miles per gallon sound?

It's that lofty goal that has Joseph Eckstein and his team from Michigan Tech going the extra mile to build the most fuel efficient vehicle possible.

"From the ground up, we design our chassis to be aerodynamic as possible and to have the lowest rolling resistance as possible," Eckstein said.

Eckstein said he can apply what he learns at events like this to the real world.

"The skills as engineers we learn working on these vehicles do translate when we work on actual passenger vehicles for road use," he said.

The team of students from Michigan Tech were one of 25 teams from colleges across the country competing in the annul SAE International Super-mileage Collegiate Engineering Competition. Other teams from the state included University of Michigan and Calvin College.

Jim Gluys, event organizer, said with gas prices at record highs, competitions like this one are proving to be extremely worthwhile and relevant.

"As we move into the future these are the engineers who are going to get us to those 55 mile per gallon fuel economy standards the government is looking for," he said.

And while cars like the ones used in the competition will never make it to the road, the ideas and concepts behind the technologies which could be used in the cars of tomorrow.

"You need to have a sense of the technology, you need to have a sense of that problem-solving but you can't just be a theoretical person," he said.

"You need to move that design proposal into this finished product, so it's a great opportunity to learn that process."

The event has been put on annually by Eaton since the 1980s. A record was set back in 2008 when students from a university in Quebec were able to get more than 3,000 miles per gallon out of their car.

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