Sponsored by Altair, the Off-Track Awards for Vehicle Design for Prototype Vehicles recognizes innovative design research and execution. It is awarded to the team that presents the most original and coherent vehicle in terms of aesthetics, ergonomics, technical feasibility, choice of materials, and eco-friendliness.
For more than a decade, Cedarville University students have worked to perfect the design of the Supermileage Sting to create an aerodynamic body that minimizes losses due to adverse pressure gradients and body skin friction.
In 2005, the team designed and built a teardrop shaped body that had two enclosed front wheels. Since then, teams have designed a new vehicle with two front wheels outside the body, which provides a wider track and narrower body. Students have done over 50 Computational Fluid Dynamics flow simulations to identify changes that need to be made in order to reduce aerodynamic drag. As a result, students have designed successive vehicle iterations with a smaller frontal cross-sectional area and a lower-drag body shape, designed and fabricated a carbon fiber chassis that was fused to the body skin and used custom-made carbon fiber tubes to make driver entry and exit easier.
The team’s mindset is founded upon a need to “reduce weight whenever possible, no matter how small.” This has inspired the use of materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, which provide excellent strength-to-weight properties and are easy to fabricate. However, weight reduction is still secondary to aerodynamics, where drag and rolling resistance have been carefully evaluated and optimized, particularly in downhill coast experiments, as a key strategy to increasing efficiency.
Overall, these improvements have provided an aerodynamic solution and demonstrated the team’s innovative thinking for a continuously updated design.
In terms of what inspires them, most team members called out the passion and inspiration of their professor and team adviser, Dr. Zavodney – affectionately known as ‘Dr Z’.
Learn more about the winning team