A Super Finish for uOttawa at International Fuel Efficiency Competition

Supermileage team

Left to right: Sam Freemark, Eric Vierich (team captain), Patrick Dumond (supervisor), Francis Lefebvre, Stefano Mazza, Laura Haya (driver), Sébastien Gagné, Jason De Sousa, Jacques Leclerc, Mitchell Geis, Jérémie Gratton.

On June 4 and 5, 2015, a group of ten engineering students participated in what could be one of their best university experiences: representing the University of Ottawa at the 2015 SAE Supermileage competition in Marshall, Michigan, USA. The goal of the competition is to design and build an ultra-high efficiency vehicle using gasoline as its only means of propulsion. The team, a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from different engineering programs, worked really well together in order to overcome many challenges.

Mitchell Geis recounts: “The most important thing that I took from this competition is that if you set your mind on something, anything is possible. After three engine failures and just about everything else going wrong, to be able to complete a run was a seemingly impossible, but incredibly rewarding accomplishment for the team.

students working on race car

The competition is a great opportunity for engineering students to apply what they learn in the classroom and really push themselves to achieve a higher level of understanding. Sam Freemark explains: “As a first-year electrical engineering student, I was initially unsure about my decision to join the uOttawa Supermileage Team. I wasn’t convinced that someone with my skill set would be able to bring anything to the table. But was I ever wrong! After just a few working sessions with the group, I knew I had made the right decision. The project involved so much more than what I had initially thought: aspects of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, combined with project management and much more. It taught me many skills that you can’t learn in the classroom, and helped me apply the ones that I had learned in class to a real world problem.

The team passed all technical requirements and completed a full six-lap run to achieve an incredible fuel economy of 542mpg (Canadian) or 0.52L/100km. This gave the team an impressive 9th place finish (out of 29), with lots of room for future improvement in their design. In fact, the team placed 4th overall on the design report, which is extraordinary since this year’s vehicle entry was designed and built completely from scratch with an entirely new team.

Laura Haya comments: “I came in as the driver while I was nearing the end of my PhD. The team built a successful Supermileage vehicle from scratch! They persisted up to, and throughout, the competition (during which they worked long days and nights). I was amazed at how well they worked together under pressure as they were faced with a succession of unforeseen mishaps. They came up with innovative solutions to each problem on the spot.

supermileage car

If this year’s performance is an indication of what lies ahead, the team has a very bright and exciting future. Patrick Dumond praises the team: “As team supervisor, I am really impressed with the amount of effort and persistence they have shown. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all the new, returning and graduating team members.

The uOttawa Supermileage team would like to thank all of this year’s sponsors who helped make their participation a reality: 3M, Freeman, Composites Canada, PPG, CCI, Click Bond, Canus Plastics, Enterprise, Shawarma Palace, Merriam Print and Calabogie Motor Sports.

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