Dallas to Denver on a Gallon of Gas

Each May, over 200 students and 81 student-built vehicles compete in the annual SuperMileage Challenge sponsored by the Minnesota Technology and Engineering Educators Association (MTEEA).  

The Challenge

A student-built vehicle must travel a total of 36 miles using the least fuel possible.  Power systems include the classic 2.4 horsepower Briggs-Stratton lawnmower engine, as well as battery-powered electric motors.

The Rules

Each team receives a set amount of energy sufficient for six, two-lap runs around a three-mile track. Gas-powered vehicles receive a bottle of fuel. The weight of the fuel is logged by car number prior to each run, and again at the end of each run. Electric-powered vehicles get a fully charged battery. To avoid disqualification, the average speed for each run must be between 15 and 25 MPH. The teams in each of six classes with the best 12-lap average mileage are declared the SuperMileage winners. 

The Technology

For its first five years, the SuperMileage Challenge was managed on clipboards with paper and pencils. Technology was first introduced in 1993 when FileMaker 2.1 made it easier to capture critical fueling and timing data for the individual cars. Upgraded with the release of FileMaker 5, the tool had performed flawlessly for two decades.

In January 2018, MTEEA made their own commitment to technology, updating their software to take full advantage of the latest technologies, such as iPads, mobile phones, and web support to capture trackside data from officials during the competition.

The Leaderboard

In the past, teams and their families would wait for the latest results from the SuperMileage command center. Using FileMaker’s native JSON support, the updated SuperMileage Challenge app pushes live data from the event to an online leaderboard where anxious participants and families can see the near real-time status of their vehicle. In the updated app’s first year of use, the best single lap average on the leaderboard: 675.6 MPG — the distance from Dallas to the Mile High City.