Leno, Shell to feature NIU CEET Supermileage Team

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Four members of the NIU Supermileage Team will go to Los Angeles to appear in conjunction with Shell Oil and Jay Leno’s Garage in advance of the upcoming Shell Eco-marathon

Four members of the Northern Illinois University College of Engineering and Engineering Technology’s (CEET) accomplished Supermileage Team are on their way to Los Angeles for a video shoot at Jay Leno’s Garage.

Mechanical engineering graduate student Kallol Barai, senior Lindsey Dodis (Mechanical engineering, mechatronics and robotics), senior mechanical engineering major Kevin Kuebrich and junior energy and environmental technology student Christian McAdoo leave for L.A. Thursday, joining the vehicle, which was shipped separately.

The production is in conjunction with a promotion of the Shell Eco-marathon, a global program that challenges high school and college student teams to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. NIU CEET will be competing in Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2015 April 10-12 on the streets of downtown Detroit. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, the innovation competition pushes future scientists and engineers to travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

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NIU Supermileage Team President and driver Lindsey Dodis with the Huskie Rocket supermileage vehicle in a lab in Still Gym.

“We are excited to see Jay Leno’s Garage in Los Angeles,” says Dodis, explaining that the team was selected following a Friday afternoon video conference with NBC representatives. “We had a Skype interview with NBC, and they liked us. The people we spoke to seemed wowed by the success of the NIU team and our commitment to the environment.”

The NIU Supermileage Team is consistently among the nation’s best. NIU has finished among the top 10 in the SAE Supermileage Competition®–a similar event–each year since 2010, including third place finishes in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Last year NIU finished seventh in both the SAE competition in Marshall, Mich. and the Shell Eco-marathon event in Houston, where the NIU vehicle traveled 1359.4 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. To put that in perspective, the trip from DeKalb, Ill. to Los Angeles, Calif. could be made on one and a third gallons of gasoline, given similar conditions.

David Schroeder, the group’s adviser, is pleased by the recognition for the team and the NIU program, which is No. 41 in the latest U.S. News Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs Rankings.

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Senior Lindsey Dodis and advisor David Schroeder load the Huskie Rocket on a transport truck to Los Angeles as junior team member Kamila Krupiarz assists with rear panels.

“We are very proud of our students’ successes over the years. They really work hard and obviously their hard work shows,” Schroeder says. “They have really taken advantage of a great experiential learning opportunity.”

The vehicle was picked up for transport to Los Angeles late Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been in the shop 12 to 13 hours a day each day over the weekend getting it ready for the trip,” adds Dodis, who serves as the team’s president and also drives the supermileage vehicle. “It’s just been a whirlwind.”

From classics to supercars, restoration projects to road tests, Jay Leno’s Garage is the Emmy-winning series where Leno gives car reviews, motorcycle reviews, compares cars, and shares his passion and expertise about motorized vehicles.

“In addition to practical engineering experience, NIU’s Supermilage Team gives students the opportunity to network and sharpen their soft skills such as team work, leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, all of which are extremely important when looking for jobs,” says Associate Dean Omar Ghrayeb, who works closely with CEET student organizations. “We are excited to see our students engaged and successful at the national and international level.”

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