Steel Wheel Design Competition Winners Announced

Winners of the SMDI steel wheel design competition were announced today by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), Michelin and Lawrence Technological University (LTU). Students designed wheels for luxury cars that were evaluated on the following criteria: material celebration, changing customer perception of steel wheels in the automotive industry, creativity and feasibility in a real-world design, plus concept.

“The steel wheel design competition presented student designers with a rare opportunity to influence the growing automotive styled steel wheel market,”
Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market, SMDI said. “This year, the students took steel to a new level in terms of lightweighting and their designs proved to be low mass, feasible concepts that automakers and customers would love.”

First place, and a $2,500 scholarship went to Colin Bonathan, second place went to Chris Nichols, who received a $1,500 scholarship, and Matthew Eash, a sophomore, placed third and was awarded a scholarship of $1,000. In addition, nine students who participated in the competition received honorable mentions and were awarded $100 each.

The winning wheel designs included:
  • Bonathan – A modern wheel designed for a 2011 Chrysler 300, includes a cylindrical shape that offers more character than today’s flat blanks. Based on a paper model he designed as a solution on how to simulate folding steel, the wheel features high-strength stainless steel to achieve a lightweight design; 
  • Nichols – The winner of last year’s competition at LTU, Nichol’s wheel was designed for the luxury electric car, Fisker Karma. His wheel, inspired by a heated coffee mug, is designed to celebrate electric cars and integrates heatsinks on the spoke, drawing heat from the hubmotors and electronic components for a functional and appealing design. With heat reactive paint, the wheel creates an eco-friendly identity at night by creating a subtle glow; 
  • Eash – Inspired from an electric guitar and American culture, Eash’s modular design features a lightweight, steel stamped backbone with a concave side in front to show depth and accentuate its steel-rolled spokes. Designed for a Lincoln MKR concept, the wheel is integrated for balance and allows for owner customization without compromising strength.
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