College Students Unveil Renderings at Steel Market Development Institute’s Steel Wheel Design Competition

DETROIT, Mar. 9, 2012 – The Wheels Task Force of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and Michelin announced the scholarship winners of Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) Steel Wheel Design Competition at the program’s unveiling this week at the LTU campus in Southfield.

For the second year in a row, Colin Bonathan, a junior, won first place and was awarded a $2,500 scholarship. Second place went to Michael Levich, a freshman, who received a $1,500 scholarship, and two-time finalist, Cherise Caldwell, a junior, placed third and was awarded a scholarship of $1,000. The additional 11 students who participated in the competition received honorable mention recognition and were awarded $100 each.

“The students did a remarkable job presenting designs that not only showcase steel in a unique, appealing way, but are lightweight, and offer consumers wheel concepts that enable increased fuel efficiency, while reducing emissions,” Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market for SMDI, said. “These attributes are essential today because consumers want stylish vehicles and wheels together with increased fuel economy.”

Students designed wheels for hybrid or electric vehicles that celebrate steel and communicate lightweighting and styling benefits. The renderings were judged by a panel of steel industry experts, automotive designers and wheel manufacturers on the following criteria: material celebration; changing customer perception by communicating environmental benefits 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 wheel designs included:

Bonathan – Designed for hybrid versions of several Ford Motor Co. vehicles, including the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, F-150 and Taurus. Bonathan proposed that stainless steel wheels be used as a key differentiator from standard cars, because of the lower environmental impact of producing and recycling steel instead of aluminum, as well as a higher strength to weight than aluminum;

Levich – Designed for Volvo’s XC60 plug-in hybrid, Levich’s wheel is configured in a skeletal structure that yields optimal strength with less weight. The wheel benefits from dual-phase steel with high tensile strength, formability and fatigue resistance. The steel will also be pre-treated for maximum corrosion protection and produced in multiple texture and color options for a two-tone combination to compliment the vehicle’s trim level and paint configuration. Featuring crush tubes in the central hub to allow for mounting studs to pass through, this design protects the integrity of the structure when lugnuts are tightened; and 

Caldwell – Designed for a Lexus LF-LC concept, Caldwell’s wheel is inspired by the design of the headlamps, grille and the look and feel of the concept. The design – which is lightweight and high-strength, brushed stainless steel – features a self-cleaning rim, which uses steam and centrifugal force to clean the rim and tires. A reservoir is connected to a tube, which runs directly to the rim, while releasing steam as the wheel rotates. The premium wheel center is painted with a high-gloss black finish.

The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets. For more news or information, visit

SMDI Automotive Applications Council Investors
• AK Steel Corporation
• ArcelorMittal Dofasco
• ArcelorMittal USA LLC
• Nucor Corporation
• Severstal North America Inc.
• ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC
• United States Steel Corporation

Deanna Lorincz
Senior Director, Communications
Steel Market Development Institute
Tel: 248.945.4763

Photo caption: (Jackie Stachowski (chair, Wheels Task Force / Nucor Corp.), Todd Fletcher (chair, Steel Wheel Design Competition / Maxion Wheels), Colin Bonathan (LTU student / 1st place winner), Michael Levich (LTU student / 2nd place winner) and Cherise Caldwell (LTU Student / 3rd place winner) pose for a photo following the awards presentation at the Steel Wheel Design Competition unveiling this week.