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Student’s Tire Design Is on a Roll, Ranks in Top 100 of More than 11,000 International Contest Entries

A futuristic tire design by UC student Scott Lenkowsky recently placed in the top 100, out of more than 11,000 international entries, in the student division of the prestigious iF Product Design Award competition.

Date: 6/26/2013 9:30:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Scott Lenkowsky; video by Hankook Tire America Corp.

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati’s Scott Lenkowsky’s futuristic tire design for tomorrow recently tread new ground by placing in the top 100 out of more than 11,000 international entries in the student division of the prestigious iF Product Design Award competition.

That contest, sponsored by the iF International Design Forum, has been in existence for nearly 60 years.  

Lenkowsky, 22, of Paramus, N.J., is entering his senior year in UC’s nationally No. 1 ranked industrial design program, part of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).
Scott Lenkowsky's "eMembrane."

In a 2012 studio course led by Raphael Zammit, coordinator of UC’s industrial design program and associate professor educator, and sponsored by Hankook Tire America Corp, Lenkowsky developed his "eMembrane" concept for an airless tire of rubber and anodized aluminum that could alter its ratio of contact with pavement according to speed. The tire could theoretically minimize its contact with the pavement surface during low-speed driving in order to maximize fuel efficiency through a decrease in rolling resistance. It would, in turn, maximize its surface area contact with pavement during high-speed driving, especially during dynamic cornering.

The technology that would allow this tire to function in this way would be a titanium compound within the tire that would make use of an electric charge, created by the normal working of the automobile, to permit the tire to alter its shape and thus surface contact according to speed and handing requirements.

Because of the concept’s creativity – as well as that of a number of other concepts developed by students in the UC course – Hankook Tire created a full-scale model of Lenkowsky’s design (as well as full-scale models of designs by several other students). These were displayed at the prestigious Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in 2012 and also displayed in an in-motion visualization in a futuristic, special-effects video.

Hankook Tire also entered four UC students’ designs – that by Lenkowsky as well as designs by fellow students Richard Byrne, Mark Hearn and Ben Zavala – in this year’s iF awards.

Said Lenkowsky of his design’s impressive showing in that contest, “The award and recognition are great. It’s gratifying to see where a design can go – places you don’t always expect. Obviously, we work very hard under time pressures in our design program, but it’s all worth it when our designs get seen. To have people – and design leaders – see and recognize our designs in this fashion is the best result in the end.”

He added that the entire project and the attention for the results of the UC work over the past year and a half have taught him that “you never know what can happen when you put your very best into a design. The right opportunities can come along, and in the end, that only makes us even better designers.”

Lenkowsky plans to pursue a design career in the automotive field upon graduation in spring 2014.