Category Archives: News

First-Time Supermileage Driver Makes Tech Shine

Michigan Tech’s Supermileage Systems Enterprise, part of Tech’s Advanced Motorsports, took first place for innovation solutions at SAE International’s Collegiate Design Supermileage Competition in Marshall, Michigan. The $1,000 award was sponsored by Top 1 Oil.

Michigan Tech’s team was one of 23 teams from the US and Canada who participated in the competition and one of 14 who passed the technical inspection. The Tech team placed 5th overall based their design report, presentation and fuel economy results, winning another $500 prize. They also won awards for best design execution and best overall team attitude, adding another $400 to their winnings.

But the hero of the day was Claire Sullivan, who was driving in her first Supermileage competition. Rick Berkey, Enterprise director, said: “I am giving our driver Claire Sullivan the ‘Coolest Driver under Pressure’ Award for her on-track performance.”

Berkey explained. “We were the last team on the track, and our final run was going very well. All this changed on lap 5 of 6, when the chain came off. We thought we were done and even stopped timing our laps. BUT, our driver Claire exited the vehicle (which is allowed) and got the chain back on without assistance.

“Here is where the excitement comes in,” Berkey continued. “In order to post a successful run and comply with the minimum and maximum speed constraints, we needed to complete the final lap somewhere between 3:50 and about 4:10 minutes—only a 20-second window to hit and about 2 minutes faster than our optimal lap times, all without any feedback on speed/time.

“As Claire accelerated, the engine cover blew off; it is normally secured by tape. Then, the cockpit cover blew off. It is not really designed for the driver to reinstall unassisted while sitting (or rather lying) in the car.

“To make matters worse, the cover bumped one of the kill switches in the process and shut the car off. Claire figured this out and reached up to turn the switch to the run position (all while strapped in a six-point safety harness).

“At this point we literally told Claire over the radio to ‘trust her gut.’ And she did. Her final lap was 3:57–not too fast, not too slow, but just right. The timing judges were impressed; we were in awe, and Claire was clearly our hero of the day.”

By Jenn Donovan.

The event took place June 8-9, 2017, at the Eaton Corporation in Marshall, Michigan.

Complete Results

by Rick Berkey

Event Summary:

  • We were one of 23 registered teams – 6 from Canada and 17 from the US, including 3 from Michigan (other MI teams were Lawrence Tech and Univ. of Detroit – Mercy).
  • Of the 23 registered teams, we were one of 14 who passed technical inspection.
  • We earned a design score of 325 out of 450 possible, based on our written report and verbal presentation.
  • After battling engine tuning and chain tensioning problems nearly all day, we worked through these issues and made two successful fuel economy runs of 443 and 535 mpg.

Results:

  • We placed 5th overall based our design report, presentation, and fuel economy results ($500). Our design score helped us, as our fuel economy was only 7th highest.
  • We earned 1st place Innovative Solutions Award, sponsored by Top 1 Oil ($1000 and plaque).
  • We received the award for Best Design Execution, selected by the event organizers ($300 and plaque).
  • We received the award for Best Overall Team Attitude ($100 and plaque), selected by the event organizers based on discussions with other teams in the pits. Our team spent a lot of time helping the Iowa State team who was having a lot of challenges trying to pass inspection. I’m most proud of this award, as it shows the true character of our team.
  • I am giving our driver Claire Sullivan the ‘Coolest Driver under Pressure’ Award for her on-track performance below.

Supermileage 2017

Supermileage 2017


Robotic Ankle Research in Orthopedic Design & Technology

Robotic AnkleResearchers are developing an artificial vision system that can enable a robotic ankle to see where it is going to improve the wearer’s gait.

Mo Rastgaar, a Michigan Technological University mechanical engineer and his team have already developed a prototype of the prosthetic ankle that can provide a range of motion that rivals a natural gait. Next, they aim to give their robotic ankle something different: eyes.

The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving the leg. Mo Rastgaar

Read more at Orthopedic Design & Technology.

Related stories:

HIRoLab Featured in National Biomechanics Day Outreach

The Better to See You With: Prosthetic Leg Would Keep an Eye on the Path Ahead

Rastgaar Receives CAREER Award to Develop Ankle-Foot Prosthetic Robot


Future Transmission Development by Darrell Robinette

Triple ClutchUK Car Magazine, a European car enthusiast magazine and Lubrizol Additives 360, an online driveline news organization, have published articles featuring a new automatic transmission design developed by Darrell Robinette(ME-EM). The new transmission design was developed during his time at General Motors and was presented at CTI Ttransmission Symposium in Berlin, Germany last December. The articles can be found here and here.

Future engines will have more torque at low(er) engine speeds. It’s part of our job when designing transmissions to maximize that efficiency but, also, to ensure a pleasurable driving experience.Darrell Robinette


John Johnson Award for Outstanding Research in Diesel Engines

John H. Johnson
John H. Johnson

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other news outlets around the country reported on the winners of the John Johnson Award for Outstanding Research in Diesel Engines.

The award is funded through contributions from John H. Johnson (ME-EM), his colleagues and former students. Johnson is a Presidential Professor with Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical-Engineering Mechanics, a fellow of SAE International and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a renowned expert in the field of diesel engines.

See the full story here.


Supermileage Enterprise Wins at Shell Eco-Marathon

SSE and ShellThe 33rd annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition took place over the weekend, April 27-30 in Detroit, MI. This year’s event was the second season that Michigan Tech’s Supermileage Systems Enterprise team competed.  Shell Eco-marathon challenges student teams from around the world to design, build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. More than 100 teams from universities and high schools across the country and abroad came to the heart of the Motor City to compete on the track located on the city streets surrounding the Cobo Convention Center.

Read more at Pavlis Honors College, by Amy Karagiannakis.


Abdelkhalik Team at Global Space Competition

GTOCA team of Michigan Tech and University of Michigan students placed 16th in the European Space Agency’s 9th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. The online competition attracted 69 teams.

The competition challenge was: “It is the year 2060 and the commercial exploitation of Low Earth Orbits (LEOs) went well beyond the trillion of Euros market size. Following the unprecedented explosion of a Sun-synchronous satellite, the Kessler effect triggered further impacts, and the Sun-synchronous LEO environment was severely compromised.

Scientists from all main space agencies and private space companies isolated a set of 123 orbiting debris pieces that, if removed, would restore the possibility to operate in that precious orbital environment and prevent the Kessler effect from permanently compromising it. You are thus called to design a series of missions able to remove all critical debris pieces while minimizing the overall cumulative cost of such an endeavor. Each single mission cost (in EUR) will depend on how early the mission is submitted via this web-site (regardless of their actual launch epoch) and on the spacecraft initial mass.”

Michigan Tech’s team included Ossama Abdelkhalik (MEEM), four graduate students and one remote graduate student.

By Jenn Donovan.


Mobile Lab at TARDEC

Mobile Lab
Mobile Lab

The Michigan Tech Mobile Lab is currently at TARDEC (U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center) in Warren, Michigan, delivering six professional development short courses in Instrumentation and Experimentation, Hybrid Electric Vehicles and High Voltage Safety.

Classes involve a mix of direction instruction, hands on activities, demonstrations and lab exercises. Students will have a chance to operate a propulsion system dynamometer test cell, experience the differences between different HEV architectures, build their own signal conditioning circuits, as well as perform a high voltage battery removal.

The students are composed of design and test engineers and technical staff. Instructors include Jeremy Worm, Chris Morgan, Darrell Robinette, Lucia Gauchia, Wayne Weaver and Ron Butler.


Water Drones for Rescuing Swimmers

SENSEThe Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on a two-day conference on new life-saving technologies for the Great Lakes. One of the demonstrations was by Michigan Tech, where the SENSE Enterprise team and Andrew Barnard (ME-EM) are developing drones to help save people who are drowning. Read the story here.

The story was also picked up by the Detroit Free Press and the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.

With Great Lakes drownings spiking, rescuers look to education, technology

Michigan Tech students are working on a drone that can be used as a life raft, cheap and affordable enough that they can be kept at popular swimming beaches or in squad car trunks and used very quickly.

“It’s like a mechanized life ring,” said Andrew Barnard, leader of the SENSE Enterprise Team at Michigan Tech. “If you’ve got someone 100 yards offshore, it takes away the danger of swimming out to them or the time it takes to get a boat. A life ring can only be thrown maybe 25 yards and if it’s windy it’s hard to get the life ring to the person.”

The Michigan Tech water drone prototype, which students dubbed Nautical Emergency Rescue Drone (NERD), uses plastic PVC piping, low-cost remote vehicle propellers and the same controls used for remote-controlled planes and boats.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, by Meg Jones.

2017 Ford College Community Challenge Top 20 – Michigan Technological University (SENSE Enterprise)

Michigan Tech students’ work with Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences Enterprise is underway benchmarking existing rescue methods, technologies to define a cost effective system; testing concept stages and initial prototype.

Read more and watch the video at Ford Blue Oval Network.



Three Short Courses in Vehicle Dynamics and Diesel Engines to be Offered Summer 2017

APS Lab

Back by popular demand, three short courses will be offered this summer.

The courses are “Experimental Studies in Vehicle Dynamics,” “Fundamentals of Diesel Engines” and “Diesel Engine Control Systems.”

Courses include extensive laboratory components with a format that mixes traditional lecture and group discussion with hands-on experiments conducted in powertrain test-cells and through driving vehicles on the road. The courses will be available to all Michigan Tech graduate students and undergraduate seniors. Each course is one credit with a lab fee of $265. Course descriptions are included below.

Experimental Studies in Vehicle Dynamics: MEEM 5990 Section 50 — A combination of lecture and hands-on activities. Measure and understand vehicle size and CG (X-Y-Z), Determine optimum suspension setup for handling and performance. Model and measure real world vehicle acceleration for correlation and prediction of vehicle performance. See the effects of vehicle design on understeer and oversteer during limit handling.

Fundamentals of Diesel Engines: MEEM 5202 — A combination of lecture and hands-on activities. Options for transportation and lunch. Content; fundamentals of operation, performance metrics, thermochemistry, combustion, fuel injection and spray, air systems and turbocharging, EGR, energy balance, heat transfer, diesel engine simulation and advanced concepts and trends in diesel engines.

Diesel Engine Control Systems: MEEM 5204 — A combination of lecture and hands-on activities. Options for transportation and lunch. Content; review diesel operation, regulations, intro to engine control, diesel engine actuators, load control, Start of Injection, Rail Pressure, Turbo Control, EGR and Engine Out Emissions, aftertreatment, algorithm and calibration, OBD and controller communications.

These courses are a great option for anyone looking to increase their understanding of vehicle systems or engines, or for students needing additional credits.

All courses will be delivered from the Michigan Tech Advanced Power Systems Research Center located near the Houghton County Airport. The courses will be two-and-a-half days in duration, starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday and ending at 5 p.m. Friday of that same week. Transportation to and from campus may be provided each day. Lunch will be provided on Thursday and Friday.

Registration is now open through banweb:

  • Experimental Studies in Vehicle Dynamics — 6/14/17-6/16/17 CRN 52391
  • Fundamentals of Diesel Engines — 7/12/17 through 7/14/17 CRN 52378
  • Diesel Engine Control Systems — 8/02/17 through 8/04/17 CRN 52379

Students are welcome to register for any or all three. There are no pre-requisites, but familiarity with vehicle dynamics, thermodynamics and/or IC engine cycles will be helpful.

Contact Chris Morgan for further details.