For the second year in a row, Michigan Tech’s Supermileage Systems Enterprise (SSE) took 2nd place overall in the 42nd annual SAE Supermileage competition, held virtually on May 13th & 14th. Per SAE’s website, the engineering design goal for SAE Supermileage is to develop and construct a single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle that complies with the competition rules. Vehicles run a specified course to obtain the highest combined kilometers per liter (miles per gallon) rating. Students also participate in a design segment consisting of a written report and verbal presentation. Like last year, competition was limited to a virtual knowledge event (report and presentation only) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked about this year’s Supermileage experience, Rick Berkey, professor of practice in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Dept. and faculty advisor for SSE since 2008, shared the following: “Our team was really looking forward to an in-person event, especially after logging nearly 6,500 hours on vehicle design, fabrication, assembly, and testing. SAE’s decision in late March to cancel the vehicle competition portion was disappointing, but understandable. I am extremely proud of the way SSE students took the news and maintained focus, pushing ahead to assemble and test their vehicle before the end of the semester. I am also impressed with the way they navigated pandemic-related restrictions and challenges all year. When the 2nd place result was announced, I was absolutely thrilled, but not surprised.
“Our design report scores have been the highest in three out of the last four competitions. And this year, SAE provided a new design ‘twist’, challenging teams to evaluate their ability to traverse the competition track in the opposite direction. This includes a steep 6% grade in one section, which has direct implications on powertrain decisions and fuel efficiency. Using vehicle simulation and road load analysis, we were able to justify our powertrain decisions and effectively communicate our understanding of these impacts, which contributed to our strong finish. In addition to congratulating all SSE student members, I would also like to thank SAE International, our AMS sponsors, SSE alumni, and several MTU colleagues who provided additional guidance and mentorship to SSE. This is a perfect example of what makes Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program so impactful. What a great way to end a challenging year — and with back-to-back 2nd place finishes, SSE is even more eager to return in the Fall with our sights set on taking top honors in the 2022 competition!”