Originally published June 15, 2012

Students at Milwaukee School of Engineering continually push the limits when it comes to their design projects, and this year’s Supermileage Vehicle Team is no exception. Members of the MSOE Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created a single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle by redesigning and modifying a 150cc Briggs and Stratton engine, sleeved down to 47cc with a Honda overhead cam and adjustable, stock Honda carburetor.

The project began at the start of the school year and ended in June when the team took their finished supermileage vehicle to Marshall, Mich., for the SAE Supermileage Vehicle Competition. Teams are given basic guidelines and then work to create a vehicle that gets the best miles per gallon while meeting safety requirements.

Thirty-two collegiate teams from around the world converged on the Eaton Proving Grounds to see how their vehicles would stand up to the competition. The first challenge was passing technical inspection. This year, MSOE’s team was the first one to make it through the technical inspection on the first try—they didn’t have to make any modifications to their vehicle and they passed all of the dynamic events. Only 13 out of the 32 vehicles passed technical inspection and were allowed to compete on the track!

Next, the team had to declare what their predicted fuel economy would be. Based on their design and the performance of previous MSOE vehicles, the team predicted their vehicle would achieve 843 miles per gallon.

Finally, it was time to head out to the track for some test runs. They tried a few different driving strategies and made their plan. Rising early the next day, the team completed five competitive runs on the course, with three runs halted by minor electrical problems. Their first run achieved 812 mpg. The following runs ranged between 779 and 800 mpg. At the end of the day, they decided to hit the track one more time—right before the track was set to close—to see if they could beat the fuel economy of their first run. The ninth time was the charm: they reached 842 mpg.

Their final run was good enough to land them a 6th place finish overall in the competition. They also brought home the award for “Closest to Predicted Fuel Economy.” The team was led this year by Meghan Krause, a mechanical engineering sophomore, and was advised by Dr. Chris Damm, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Read more about the team’s success in Michigan and also at the Shell Eco-Marathon in April in Houston on their website: http://sae.groups.msoe.edu/smv

Congratulations to all members of the team: Meghan Krause, president; Charlie Scanlon, vice president; Caleb Nitz, media manager; Patrick Comiskey, sponsorship manager; Chris Dostal, treasurer; Todd Brooke, David Doyle, Matt Drea, Ethan Ensign, Michael Fricke, Scott Gray, Joseph Hoffmann, James Ihrcke, Kyung Kwan Jang, Greg Kucab, Chi Hin Lui, John Ohme, James Reed, Robert Runte, Michael Rutas, Evan Schilling, Michael Storm, Alex Weise, Steven Weyer and Thomas Wojtowitcz.

MSOE is an independent, non-profit university with about 2,500 students. MSOE offers 18 bachelor’s degrees and nine master’s degrees in the engineering, engineering technology, building and infrastructure engineering, health-related engineering, computer, business and nursing fields. The university has a national academic reputation; longstanding ties to business and industry; dedicated professors with real-world experience; and extremely high placement rates and the highest starting salaries of any Wisconsin university according to PayScale Inc. MSOE graduates are well-rounded, technologically experienced and highly productive professionals and leaders.