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Engineering students learn from professionals, showcase their ‘outstanding’ accomplishments

April 15, 2011

Engineering & engineering technology

An NIU engineering student shows off his vehicle April 6 during the Society of Automotive Engineers visit.

NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) played host Wednesday, April 6, to the Chicago and Rockford/Beloit sections of SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“Staying closely connected to business and industry in the region and across the globe benefits both local manufacturers and our students,” said Omar Ghrayeb, associate dean of undergraduate studies. “The CEET student teams that compete in the SAE International Collegiate Design Competition gave CEET students the opportunity to learn from professionals and to showcase their outstanding accomplishments.”

CEET students belonging to the NIU chapter of SAE presented their work and progress on projects such as the Formula Car, Baja Car, Supermileage Car, the Human Powered Vehicle Competition and the Clean Snowmobile Challenge to professionals representing dozens of companies around the region.

At the beginning of each semester, students begin work on their vehicles to compete in national and international competitions.  Many of these groups rank in competitions. Last year, the Supermileage group ranked third in the world and first in the United States. The Formula team also achieved success, ranking 41st out of 120 teams.

During the evening, team members networked with these professionals and enjoyed hearing from people already working in the industry. These experts support CEET students and, together with the college, help fund their activities. The Rockford/Beloit chapter of SAE donated $500 to help maintain the success of NIU student chapters and give students the opportunity to apply the theories learned in the classroom.

Dan Karlak, from CNH Americal LLC, an agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer, was impressed by the work the students performed.

“I’m most impressed by the long range plans formulated to meet the performance objectives within the constraints of budget and manpower,” Karlak said. “For instance, the supermilage vehicle changed to an electronic fuel valve this year and they plan to change the frame from steel to composite next year. This demonstrates to me that these students are learning, listening and making adjustments — exactly what we do in the industry.”

Competitions provide a chance to meet and network with peers from other outstanding institutions as well as industry professionals to promote career development prior to graduation.

Excellence in all aspects of engineering is addressed in the competition by the vehicles being judged on research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and budgeting.