Penn State Behrend team tops 3,000mpg to win SAE Supermileage contest

Penn State Behrend team tops 3,000mpg to win SAE Supermileage contest

Eaton-sponsored competition features student teams.


Marshall, Michigan – Penn State Behrend’s team from Erie, Pennsylvania, achieved 3,014mpg with their student-designed and built vehicle to place first at the annual SAE Supermileage competition June 7-8, 2018, at Eaton’s Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan.

“The team and car really came together this year for an outstanding performance. The correct combination of driver skill, engine tuning, and environmental and track conditions allowed the vehicle to break 3,000mpg,” said Scott DeLaney, president of the Penn State Behrend team. “Last year, we decided to change over to a fuel-injected engine, so we really focused on refining that for this year.”

He added, “We were fortunate that ANSYS sponsored us and provided us with their engineering simulation and 3D design software for a year. That really made a difference as it allowed us to simulate the operation of the engine where we could see the inside of the engine during its cycle. We probably spent between 1,500 to 3,000 hours just working on the engine.”

The competition, in its 39th year, helps to generate public awareness of high-mileage fuel-efficient vehicles and encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Participants are encouraged to use advanced materials and technologies, as well as their design creativity and imaginations, to get the most out of their vehicles over the 9.6-mile course – six times around Eaton’s 1.6-mile test track.

“It is truly amazing what these student teams were able to accomplish,” said Jim Gluys, Eaton Supermileage Event Manager, 2004 – 2018. “The Supermileage competition helps them develop practical engineering, team-building, and leadership skills that they can use to succeed in their careers, including making tomorrow’s cars and trucks more fuel efficient.”

A total of 32 collegiate teams (21 from the U.S., eight from Canada, one from Lebanon, one from United Arab Emirates, and one from Qatar) competed this year.

“It was such a rewarding feeling,” said Aleksey Checkeye, a junior mechanical engineering major and the driver of the Penn State Behrend vehicle. “We had been wanting to break 3,000 miles for a couple years, and it was just great to be able to do it with this group.”

“The car was basically designed for Aleksey,” said team member Gary Schultz, who recently graduated from Behrend with a mechanical engineering degree.

While driving, Checkeye and the team use a “burn and coast” method. At the start of the competition, Checkeye starts the engine, accelerates for a bit and then turns the engine off to coast the remainder of the course. It’s an intentional attempt at fuel conservation.

Supermileage is a part of SAE’s Collegiate Design Series. In addition to hosting Supermileage, Eaton is providing financial and technical support to a student-engineering team from the University of Michigan to design and develop a vehicle to compete against other student teams in the American Solar Challenge competition this year.