College Students Unveil Creative Renderings at SMDI's Steel Wheel Design Competition

DETROIT, March 14, 2013 – The Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Wheels Task Force and Michelin announced the winners of their fourth annual Steel Wheel Design Competition at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) at the program’s unveiling last week. The event, which awarded scholarships for unique designs that communicate the lightweighting and styling benefits of steel wheels, took place at the LTU campus in Southfield. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

“This years’ student designers took steel to a new level, finding ways of building on the performance advantages of steel in a creative and imaginative way,” Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market for SMDI, said. “All the competitors did a wonderful job presenting and showcasing how steel can offer outstanding styling features, while offering the complete package of structural efficiency, safety, sustainability and affordability.”

Students designed wheels that celebrate steel and communicate lightweighting and styling benefits for the theme “Hollywood steel: A science fiction theme that is edgy, with an out-of-this-world feeling.” The renderings and steel wheel features were judged by a panel of steel and automotive designers and engineers, and wheel manufacturers on the following criteria: material celebration; changing customer perception by communicating environmental benefits and performance; creativity and feasibility 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:

  • Greg VanderVoord – Designed for the armored vehicle Terradyne Gurkha, VanderVoord’s wheel features shape memory technology, which allows metal to deflect from its original form and quickly return back when heat is applied. The “tweel” concept helps minimize the risk of getting a flat tire by applying a flexible steel structure in place of rubber, creating a strong and uniquely styled wheel;
  • Peter Corey – Designed for Tesla Motors Model L, Corey’s wheel is designed for electric and hybrid vehicles. According to Corey, by using steel to create a beautifully mellow resonating sound, the wheel technology helps pedestrians detect the vehicle, which typically produces less sound than vehicles with internal combustion engines. The resonating steel has a warm sound that is unobtainable with other metals. The advanced steel technologies allow for a thin rim, while remaining strong and allowing the resonator plate and cones to fit with the brake and rotor; and
  • Michael Levich – Designed for a Ford Police Interceptor Sedan 3.5L EcoBoost V6, Levich’s wheel features parallel plate hydroforming to reduce thinning of material as would occur in a deep drawn stamping. The design, which uses two ultra-thin steel sheets that create a 3-D shape, allows for two steel types and thicknesses: a thicker, more rigid steel to protect against lateral wear and tear; and a thinner layer for optimum hydroform profile, using less pressure and lower tooling costs.

AISI serves as 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. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI’s member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.

SMDI 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 or follow us on twitter at  

SMDI automotive investors include:

• AK Steel Corporation
• ArcelorMittal Dofasco
• ArcelorMittal USA LLC
• Nucor Corporation
• Severstal North America
• ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC
• United States Steel Corporation 

Jennifer Greenfelder
Manager, Automotive Communications
Steel Market Development Institute
Tel: 248.945.4767