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Steel Market Development Institute, Lawrence Technological University And Michelin Drive The Next Generation Of Lightweight Automotive Design In Student Steel Wheel Competition

steel (select to view enlarged photo)

Scholarships awarded for top designs that promote steel as an automotive lightweighting solution

DETROIT--Oct. 15, 2012:   The Steel Market Development Institute's (SMDI) Wheels Task Force, in partnership with Michelin and Lawrence Technological University (LTU), recently kicked off its fourth annual Steel Wheel Design Competition at the LTU campus in Southfield, Mich. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.  The competition provides LTU's transportation design students real-world experience, while highlighting the significant gains steel wheels are making with innovative styling, higher profit margins, lower warranty costs and competitive weight.   

This year's student designers are addressing how new steel grades can be incorporated into wheel designs for mass reduction and lightweighting benefits to meet the upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations. In addition to designing for lighter cars and trucks, the students must also ensure that their designs are cost-effective, marketable and able to be manufactured with today's systems and machining technologies.

"Given the recent and anticipated advancements in steel technology and the need for lightweight solutions for automotive applications, advanced high-strength steel is evolving to be an important contributor to vehicle wheel designs of the future," Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market, SMDI, said. "This competition provides a preview of the future. Each year we are amazed at the creativity, insight and design innovations unveiled by the students."

Integrated into the LTU curriculum, the project presents student designers with an opportunity to better understand and influence the growing automotive styled steel wheel market. Students participating in the LTU wheels project are tasked with designing wheels for hybrid and electric vehicles that celebrate steel and convey its lightweighting attributes, styling benefits and superior durability.

Designs will be developed based on this year's science fiction theme, "Hollywood Steel." Students will create edgy designs that represent a futuristic high-tech world and they will show how steel contributes to that future world.

After a presentation of their designs to the Steel Wheels Task Force and industry professionals, three students will be selected for scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000. The projects will be evaluated based on several criteria including: material celebration; changing customer perception by communicating environmental benefits and performance; creativity through a unique and innovative design that maintains functionality; and an executed design concept that complements the vehicle's aesthetics.

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 as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 124 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.