One local student and his team, Team Top Gear, earned second place in the Missouri SuperMileage Contest held in Warrensburg Tuesday, April 17.
The SuperMileage contest is an engineering challenge for students to try to get the best gas mileage from a one- person, 3- or 4-wheel vehicle with a small internal combustion engine. The competition includes various classes including cars built with solar power, electric and biodiesel.
Team members include Michael Hereford, Washington High School; Mitch Hollander, Marquette High School in Wildwood; and Keith Skubic, Curtis Gill and Tyler Romaro, all from Lafayette High School in Wildwood.
The team had a top fuel mileage of 281.905. A total of nine teams from Missouri competed in the competition.
“The car broke several times and it was really tough to get back on the track to do all 40 miles that we needed to qualify,” Michael Hereford said. “I think second place is a great finish.”
The students are under the advisorship of Michael Hereford’s father, Andy Hereford, who is an engineer at Flopak in Woodriver, Ill. The Hereford’s live in Washington near Krakow.
“A lot of the members have told me that they get a lot of real world experience and problem solving skills,” Andy Hereford said. “Graduates have said this experience is good for them in gaining entry into universities and helping them with engineering classes as they’ve moved on.”
Andy Hereford said he was proud of the team.
“The kids and I were excited and proud to have won second place, especially given the technical challenges that they had to tackle all day,” he said.
This is the third year Team Top Gear has participated in the competition. The first year they marked about 160 miles per gallon. Last year they came out with an unofficial 260 miles per gallon. The miles were not official because the car had trouble and couldn’t complete the required number of runs to be official, Michael Hereford explained.
To build the car, the team relies on donations and sponsors. This year’s budget was about $750.
The group meets once each week year-round to prepare for the competition.
This year, for the first time, Team Top Gear participated in a worldwide competition, the Shell Eco Marathon held in Houston, Texas. The competition was held at the end of March.
The team ended the competition with 241 miles to the gallon, Andy Hereford said, noting that mileage is measured a little differently than in the Missouri SuperMileage Contest.
In that competition, a total of 115 teams competed and the best team got about 2,100 miles to the gallon.
Even though they didn’t place in the competition, Michael Hereford said he still enjoyed the experience.
“It was cool getting to compete with some of the best teams in the world,” he said.