Students Compete to Build Most Fuel Efficient Vehicle
Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (April 13, 2012) – Imagine a gasoline-powered vehicle that averages nearly 178 miles per gallon, or even a small bio-fuel car capable of reaching 250 mpg. These are among the top results middle school and high school students from across the state accomplished during the sixth annual Missouri SuperMileage Challenge in 2011. Many of these students as well as a large number of first-time competitors will be returning to the University of Central Missouri campus Tuesday, April 17 hoping to better such achievements with vehicles they built themselves.
Sponsored by UCM’s Department of Career and Technology Education in cooperation with the Missouri Safety Center, the seventh annual Missouri SuperMileage Challenge takes place at the Center’s Highway Instructional Park, 1200 N. Holden St., Warrensburg. The challenge is open to all Missouri schools and students representing all disciplines, including math, science and technology education. About a dozen schools are expected to participate in this year’s event, which is open to the public. After morning inspections, official laps will begin at about 9:30 a.m., with each competing vehicle making 10 treks around the prepared course.
Terry Butler, director of the Missouri Safety Center, said student participants are using what they have learned in the integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum to design, fabricate and test their entries with a goal to see whose vehicles can travel the farthest on the smallest amount of fuel. The curriculum at participating schools is designed to teach students concepts in mechanical load testing, aerodynamics, materials selection and fuel efficiency.
Butler said the competition also allows students to:
- Use their technical knowledge and problem-solving skills in a realistic project;
- Work as teams to design, engineer, and fabricate a one-person vehicle;
- Focus on the requirements of a vehicle problem out of the norm: the objective is to produce a vehicle
- that is capable of high mileage and not high speed;
- Have the opportunity to safely compete against other schools and vehicles; and
- Share and learn ideas from other participants.
Dick Kahoe, associate professor in the UCM Department of Career and Technology Education, said the competition teaches students lessons in sustainability while also providing a “perfect” opportunity for schools to integrate STEM education into the learning process. Students will measure their fuel by weight, and some of them, he said, will create their own fuels. Vehicle designs, which can incorporate many different sizes and uses of wheels, add an interesting dimension to the contest.
“The vehicles are all different. Everyone is taking a different approach to solve the same problem,” Kahoe said.
UCM alumnus Carter Fawkes, currently teaches at Marshall High School, and has been instrumental in organizing the challenge since its inception. Students, staff, and faculty from the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, the College of Education, and the College of Health, Science, and Technology are involved in the event. The Missouri Supermileage Association also collaborates with event organizers to help make it possible.
Individuals who want to know more can visit the Missouri SuperMileage Challenge official web site at http://www.missourisupermileage.org/.