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Steel wheel designers earn scholarships

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Elizaveta Bondarenko designed steel wheels for the GMC Terrain.

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (March 18, 2014) — The Steel Market Development Institute's (SMDI) Wheels Task Force has picked three winners of this year’s “Steel Wheel Design Competition,” conducted in partnership with Michelin North America Inc. and Lawrence Technological University.

The annual event, which awards scholarships to students for their designs that communicate the lightweighting and styling benefits of steel wheels, took place at the LTU campus in Southfield. The winners are all students at LTU.

The SMDI, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), did not disclose the value of the scholarships.

“The students did an outstanding job this year designing wheels that highlight steel’s lightweighting and durability benefits, while also creating their styling features to enhance wheel appearance,” said Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market for SMDI.

Peter Corey's 17-inch steel wheels are designed for a Fiat 500.

“The competition not only proves to be a great way to show steel benefits to consumers, it also helps wheel makers and automotive manufacturers meet new fuel economy standards with lighter-weight wheels.”

The competition is an option within the LTU curriculum and is based on engineering results from the SMDI’s Lightweight Steel Wheel Project. Students were tasked with designing an advanced alloy steel wheel that communicates the light-weight and styling benefits of steel in the competitive wheel market.

The renderings and steel wheel features were judged by a panel of steel experts, automotive designers, engineers and wheel manufacturers on the following criteria: material celebration; changing customer perception by communicating environmental issues and performance; creativity through a unique and innovative design that maintains functionality; and an executed design concept that complements the vehicle's aesthetics.

The winning designers were:

  • Elizaveta Bondarenko — Designed for the GMC Terrain, Ms. Bodarenko’s 17-inch wheel features inspiration from the vehicle’s exterior design and grill for a mesh pattern inserted into the wheel, creating an innovative look that’s also better aerodynamically.
  • Elizabeth Steenwyk — Designed to integrate classic Volkswagen lines and a sporty feel into a lightweight steel wheel for the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR Turbo, this concept is a drop-center wheel, which reduces the amount of material used. It also features a groove along the spokes, where a black rubber insert with a yellow pinstripe sits. The pinstripe echoes the iconic rush exterior of the GSR to create a sportier, powerful design that better fits the Beetle.
  • Peter Corey — Designed for a Fiat 500, Mr. Corey’s 17-inch wheel features several layers, including folded-over steel for a 3-D effect, bent sides and welded sheets. The light-eight design mimics an eagle’s wings in flight.

The AISI considers itself 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. It is comprised of 23 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 125 associate members that are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.

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