LTU transportation design students Elizaveta Bondarenko, Elizabeth Steenwyk, and Peter Corey won the top scholarship prizes in the fifth annual Steel Wheel Design competition sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Wheels Task Force and Michelin. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).
The competition held on March 7 at LTU awarded scholarships for unique designs that communicate the “lightweighting” and styling benefits of steel wheels.
The competition is an option within the LTU curriculum and is based on engineering results from SMDI’s Lightweight Steel Wheel Project. Students were tasked with designing an advanced alloy steel wheel that demonstrates the lightweighting and styling benefits of steel in the competitive wheel market. The renderings and steel wheel features were judged by a panel of steel experts, automotive designers, engineers and wheel manufacturers.
Elizaveta Bondarenko took first place in the competition with her design for the GMC Terrain. Bondarenko’s lightweight 17-inch steel wheel features inspiration from the vehicle’s exterior design and its grill to come up with the idea to insert the mesh pattern into the wheel. This creates a unique and innovative look, as well as better aerodynamics.
Elizabeth Steenwyk took second place with the integration of classic Volkswagen lines and a sporty feel into a lightweight steel wheel for the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR Turbo. Steenwyk’s concept is a drop-center wheel, which reduces the amount of material used. It also features a groove along the spokes, where a black rubber insert with a yellow pin stripe sits. The pinstripe echoes the iconic rush exterior of the GSR to create a sportier, powerful design that better fits the Beetle.
Peter Corey finished third with his design for a Fiat 500. His 17-inch steel wheel features several layers, including folded-over steel for a 3-D effect, bent sides and welded sheets. The unique, lightweight design mimics an eagle’s wings when it’s swooping down from the sky.
“The students did an outstanding job this year designing wheels that highlight steel’s lightweighting and durability benefits, while also creating their styling features to enhance wheel appearance,” said Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market for SMDI. “The competition not only proves to be a great way to show steel benefits to consumers, it also helps wheel makers and automotive manufacturers meet new fuel economy standards with lighter-weight wheels.”
AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 23 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI’s member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.
SMDI promotes cost-effective solutions using steel in the automotive, construction, and container markets. Its investors include AK Steel Corp., ArcelorMittal USA LLC, Nucor Corp. Severstal North America, and United States Steel Corp.