The Northern Illinois University Society of Automotive and Aerospace Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Team is looking to wrap up its spring season at the Eaton Corporation Proving Grounds in Marshall, Mich., at the SAE Supermileage Competition® June 4-5.
The team received national attention this spring when it was selected to be part of a Shell commercial in advance of the Shell Eco-Marathon in Detroit. The 30 second spot aired nationally on NBC’s Today Show prior to the event, and it has run consistently on a national and local basis ever since.
“It was the most incredible experience ever,” says team president Lindsey Dodis of the experience making the commercial with NBC’s Jay Leno. “Of course, being in Jay’s garage, we were like kids in a candy store.”
Still, with all the publicity the team received, the team fell short of its goals in Detroit partly because of lost preparation time.
“This year for supermileage has been very unexpectedly busy and, of course, very exciting for the team,” Dodis notes. “Now that we have had even more time to perfect our designs and fully prepare for the upcoming SAE Supermileage Competition, we are much more confident and can’t wait to see how we compare to other universities.”
With a new, rebuilt engine and brand new carbon fiber body in addition to other new features, Dodis has good reason to be confident in a better outcome this time around.
“We are using a custom designed and built flywheel for weight savings, we’re using a brand new custom designed wheel sprocket, and we have worked hard since the Shell Eco Marathon to improve and align all aspects of the car for improved efficiency especially in the powertrain portions of our vehicle,” says Dodis, who is also the vehicle’s driver.
The NIU Supermileage Team is consistently among the nation’s best. NIU has finished among the top 10 in the SAE Supermileage Competition® each year since 2010, including third place finishes in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Last year, NIU finished seventh.
“It’s a great privilege to have worked with such bright and hardworking students over the past five years. I’m looking forward to seeing them compete this week at the SAE Supermileage event,” says the team’s faculty advisor, David Schroeder.
Dodis, who graduated in May, cites the culture of constant improvement and the support of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology as keys to the sustained success of the team.
“We would not be where we are now without all of the support from our team alumni, faculty advisor and our college. Each year’s team is built upon the previous year’s successes in order to have a continuously improving vehicle each year at competition,” Dodis adds.