USA Supermileage Car Wins Award, Heads to Gulf Coast Exploreum
Posted on July 14, 2015 by Alice Jackson
The University of South Alabama Supermileage Car, which beat out dozens of universities for the Design Report Trophy at the 2015 SAE Supermileage Competition, will be displayed July 18-26 at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile.
During the June 3-5 competition , the USA students earned the respect of their peers for overcoming numerous obstacles on their way to winning the Design Report Trophy and an 11th place overall finish in a field of 29 universities.
“This competition, sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, included teams of college students from around the world. It is truly remarkable that our team won first place in the design report competition. We hope the entire community will come see the car and meet the students,” said Dr. John Steadman, dean of the College of Engineering.
Team members were at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on July 18 to answer questions about the Supermileage Car and the competition.
This was the second year a USA team has participated in the competition, which encourages practical engineering and problem-solving skills as students design and build a single-passenger vehicle using a one-cylinder, four-cycle engine modified to make it as fuel efficient as possible. This year’s 11-member team also included communications and accounting majors. The team’s trophy is now displayed in the lobby of Shelby Hall.
Team members transported their entry inside a truck to the Michigan competition site. During a test drive the night before the competition, the vehicle crashed into a ditch after hitting a pothole. Fortunately, driver Brandon Troub was unharmed, but the vehicle was badly damaged. Using their competitive spirit forged during the months of design and construction on campus, team members agreed to make the vehicle work.
“The team decided to trouble-shoot several electrical issues and managed to get the car up and running to pass technical inspections,” said member Lisa Schibelius. “Team member Daniel Mooney re-welded the front end of our vehicle the first day of competition while other teams were going through technical inspections.”
The USA team borrowed a 12-volt battery from the Ryerson University team. In turn, USA loaned a fuel pump to the team from the University of California at Los Angeles.
“This shows how important the camaraderie between different teams and schools is for the success of the students,” Schibelius said.
Challenges increased for the USA team on the track as several issues surfaced with their electronic fuel injection. They solved that problem by replacing a pressure regulator, but soon dead batteries and a chain being thrown dimmed their chances. Additionally, driver Troub had to get out of the vehicle during the timed fuel economy test run and use a screwdriver to reattach a chain on the rear wheel.
Despite the setbacks, the USA team’s 11th place performance bested last year’s results. Once they did a full run, the USA Supermileage car achieved 305 miles per gallon. Last year, the team finished thirteenth out of 29.
The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is located at 65 Government St. in downtown Mobile. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
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