UBC Supermileage was founded in 2001 by UBC engineering students Rob Mahaffey and Brian Jung. The goal of the team was to develop a highly fuel-efficient car to compete in the SAE Supermileage competition while providing an opportunity for student engineers to apply classroom theories to real-world problems. The team started out small, with 6 students doing most of the organization, fundraising, design, fabrication, and assembly of the vehicle. The team’s small size compared to other UBC student teams did not prevent it from being successful at the competition, and in fact UBC Supermileage achieved a first-place position 4 years in a row, and the team record of 3145 mpg in 2006.
In the 2006/2007 academic year, the team consisted mostly of new members after the core members graduated from UBC. This was a difficult year for the team as the new members had to rebuild the team’s sponsorship relationships, available resources, and technical knowledge base due to the lack of turnover documentation from the now-graduated core members. Attempting new challenges, the team would go on to compete at the Shell Eco-Marathon. The team overcame these challenges to obtain a respectable fourth-place position in the 2008 SEMA competition.
After several years of success in the SAE Supermileage competition and a brief trial at SEMA, the team decided to commit to competing in the Shell Eco-Marathon in a new team direction with the Urban Concept division. This class of vehicle was intended to promote cars that were closer to typical road-legal vehicles, marking a significant change from the Prototype vehicles that competed in the SAE Supermileage competition. During this time, the team also grew significantly in size to approximately 60 members, with 14-18 students making up the core leadership of the team. The larger team allowed UBC Supermileage for the first time to send both an Urban and a Prototype-class vehicle to competition in a single year, which took place at the 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon.
When returning from the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon, both the team’s vehicles were lost in a shipping accident. Almost every part of the vehicles was destroyed, and much of what was left was too damaged to be reused. While this setback could have caused the team to miss the Shell Eco-Marathon for a year or more, the leadership of team captain Katelyn Currie ensured that both vehicles were rebuilt from scratch in time for the 2015 Shell Eco-Marathon. Under the leadership of Nancy Chu, UBC Supermileage continued to develop as a team, and in 2016 sent the Prototype vehicle to both the Shell Eco-Marathon and SAE Supermileage competitions, where the team was recognized with the “best newcomer” award for its return to the latter competition.
After another large graduating cohort left in 2016, Jonathan Marr and Jocelyne Boone would lead a team of mostly new leads through a challenging year. With ambitious goals including engine displacement reduction and a monocoque design for the Prototype vehicle, the team would gain valuable experience under their leadership and learn many lessons on their way to both SEMA and SAE in 2017. In 2018, the team made breakthrough progress under the leadership of Sahil Dhingra and achieved 6th place at SEMA and 3rd place at SAE for the Prototype vehicle with a decade high mileage of 1407 mpg. With the leads who joined in 2016 now veterans of the competition, the team would pursue many ambitious goals including transitioning the gasoline Urban Concept to the team’s first alternative energy battery electric vehicle. Under the leadership of Cecilia Liu and Jordan Fong, the team would redesign the prototype nearly from scratch and deliver two second place finishes at the 2019 SEMA and SAE competitions with 2229 mpg, the second highest mileage in team-history.
With yet another large graduating cohort in 2019, Kevin Ta took charge leading the team into a new year. As the team continued improving our existing cars in preparation for our 2020 competitions, we also began designing a new car with the goal of entering the hydrogen fuel cell class category of the Shell Eco-marathon in 2021. However, the world got hit with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and all competitions were canceled for the year. Coleman Kaps led the team through the following pandemic year where most work was conducted online due to provincial restrictions. Despite the limited shop access, and the cancelation of in-person competitions, the team still pushed through and achieved a 1st place finish in the SEMA virtual technical inspection with our Battery Electric Urban Concept. Afterwards, the team was eager to finish building the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and successfully completed and ran it at a track day in July of 2021. Eric Bokenfohr and Quinn Duthie then lead the charge back on track to the team's first two in person competitions in 3 years, winning 2nd place with the gasoline Prototype at SAE 2022 with 1038 mpg and bringing the fuel cell Prototype to its first ever competition at SEMA 2022. In addition, the team moved to a new workspace in the Engineering Design Centre and said goodbye to the old team space in Rusty Hut.
It's an exciting time to join Supermileage, join or sponsor us today!