Skip to main content

SAE Aero Design, Supermileage teams make strong showing

Release Date: April 25, 2016

LTU SAE Supermileage 2016.jpg

Two Lawrence Technological University student transportation teams acquitted themselves well in competitions over the weekend.

But the Lawrence Tech SAE Aero Design and Supermileage teams were in very different competitions, 2,000 miles apart.

In downtown Detroit, LTU competed in the Shell Eco-Marathon, a collegiate competition to see who can squeeze the most mileage out of a tiny quantity of gasoline.

LTU’s car achieved 319 mpg in the event, good for 20th place out of 45 colleges and universities competing in the prototype gasoline category.

“The team did a great job,” said Liping Liu, assistant professor in LTU’s LTU A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical Engineering. The LTU vehicle finished the Eco-Marathon’s 10-lap run.

Liu said competing in the Eco-Marathon helps the Blue Devil Motorsports Supermileage team get ready for the SAE Supermileage event, scheduled for Eaton Corp.'s Marshall Proving Ground in Marshall, Mich. in June.

Liu is co-advisor of Blue Devil Motorsports, which competes in five SAE-sponsored transportation events.

Meanwhile, in Van Nuys, Calif. – 2,000 miles as the crow flies from Detroit, but about 2,200 miles if the crow has to drive – Lawrence Tech’s SAE Aero Design team competed in SAE Aero Design West.

Lawrence Tech competed in the Aero Design Regular Class, in which the team is scored on a small radio-controlled aircraft’s reliability, weight and payload, as well as a technical report and presentation.

Andy Gerhart, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at LTU, said the team finished eighth in the presentation competition and in 18th place for its written report, both improvements over last year.

The team’s aircraft also flew and carried payload successfully, which Gerhart said was a major achievement considering what happened early in the competition.

“I’m very proud of the teamwork and perseverance of the 2016 team,” Gerhart said. “They had a major crash on Thursday and got everything rebuilt in a hotel room throughout the night to pass tech inspection on Friday. And then flew on Saturday. Not easy to do 2,000 miles from home.”

All in all, Gerhart said, the competition will provide “good building blocks for the 2017 team.”

For more on Lawrence Tech’s SAE competition teams, visit


America’s Top Colleges
Top 11% Alumni Salaries
Best in the Midwest