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Gold Lightning II supermileage vehicle mid-race

School of Engineering supermileage cars impress at state fair

by Clem Boyd, Public Relations Staff

Cedarville University’s supermileage cars have rolled to top finishes in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, received accolades from NASCAR drivers and earned a spot at the Detroit Auto Show. But this is the first time they’ve been awarded a yellow ribbon at the biggest show in Ohio.

Ohio State Fair staff honored Cedarville’s supermileage car display with the People’s Choice Award for Technology Education on July 28. The People’s Choice Award recognizes displays and hands-on activities that strongly engage the public. The Cedarville vehicles are on display at the fair through August 5 in the Lausche Youth Center on the north end of the fairgrounds.

“We wanted to showcase Cedarville University's engineering program and the success we have had with our competitions in a new venue — the Ohio State Fair,” said Dr. Larry Zavodney, senior professor of mechanical engineering and the supermileage team co-adviser. “This award was unexpected.”

Cedarville student-engineers designed and built Urbie, Gold Lightning II and Sting, cars not known for speed but ultra-high energy efficiency. The supermileage cars are designed for traveling hundreds, or even more than a thousand miles, per gallon.

This year, Cedarville earned fourth place in the urban concept combustion engine division and 13th place in the Prototype internal combustion engine division at the Shell Eco-marathon in Detroit. The fourth-place win garnered a $1,000 prize.

Zavodney and Chad Jackson, Cedarville’s director of creative services, designed the display, which features 42 STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors and special programs at Cedarville. These account for half of all majors and programs at Cedarville.

“I think Cedarville has one of most impressive displays at the state fair,” Zavodney added. “Last year, the state fair had almost a million visitors. I’m confident we’ll talk with a lot of people.”

Cedarville Students Sam Ellicott, Shannon Deal, Kirsten Sommers and Chris Brawley will staff the display on Aug. 5.

Richard Dieffenderfer, director of the fair’s Technology and Engineering Showcase, invited the supermileage team to participate after Cedarville’s ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) robotics team displayed last year. The robotics team will display this year’s ASEE project at the fair again this year.

Along with Zavodney, the Cedarville supermileage team is advised by Gerry Brown, associate professor of electrical engineering. Advising the ASEE robotics team is Chris Kohl, professor of computer engineering.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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