“Being team leader of the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 team is a lot like being king,” said Matt Yard.

Matt, a graduate student at the Ohio State University focusing in mechanical engineering, has taken the throne this year as the OSU EcoCAR 2 team leader. But this is not his first time leading the team – last year he co-lead with Katherine Bovee, a master’s student on the team. This year, though, he’s ruling solo.

Matt’s not new to the competition – this is actually his sixth year being involved in an Advanced Technology Vehicle Competition. As a freshman at Ohio State, Matt participated in Year One of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge where he focused on electrical engineering projects. Eventually Matt worked his way up the ladder and became a sub-team leader.

He didn’t stop there. Matt became team leader during Year Two of the EcoCAR 2 competition and, since then, has been managing all aspects of the team – engineering, business and communications.

When Matt graduates, he knows he wants to go into the automotive industry – his experiences with the EcoCAR competitions have confirmed it.

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In the past weeks, the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) has been completely redesigning the rear subframe of their Chevy Malibu. UWAFT believes that the rear subframe is one of the best places to remove excess weight to improve overall vehicle weight and fuel efficiency. However, UWAFT must also ensure that the new design allows the vehicle to meet or exceed stress and stiffness safety factors, all while making sure that the part’s manufacturability isn’t negatively affected.

UWAFT's current rear subframe design

UWAFT’s current rear subframe design

The software used in the design and optimization of the rear subframe is Altair Hyperworks, which allows the user to create geometry, select properties, analyze the stress on the parts, and more. With some guidance from Altair, UWAFT has been constantly improving and tweaking the design.

The different sections of the new subframe must be able to pass various load case tests. The team has developed many iterations on the subframe so far and will continue to work until they’re satisfied with the design.

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UTKControls Team member Jake Hollingsworth developing code that will be used to test vehicle drive cycles and trigger faults

UTKControls Team member Jake Hollingsworth developing code that will be used to test vehicle drive cycles and trigger faults

To be prepared for work in the automotive industry, it is imperative that engineering students gain hands-on experience while in college. This experience can be obtained through internships, co-op assignments and class projects. But at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), students have the additional opportunity to join the UTK EcoCAR 2 Team, a unique project that allows engineering students from various departments to work with top-of-the-line software and technologies. In one of the team’s latest projects, the UTK EcoCAR 2 Controls Team has been developing methods to test their vehicle’s run drive cycles and trigger faults.

In the laboratory, the controls team has an entire room dedicated to their two dynamometers. For readers that aren’t familiar with this testing device, dynamometers are used to test and validate vehicle systems by mimicking a variety of real-world driving conditions. One is specifically designed to test engine efficiency, while the other is used for chassis analysis. These types of tests are used to validate the vehicle’s performance in any terrain or environment. Jake Hollingsworth, a controls team member, says that dynamometers are “great [because of their] ability to validate and model systems in the vehicle.” Regular testing also helps the team detect errors early on in the development process, which saves time down the road.

In the coming weeks, the controls team intends to test the computer codes for drive cycles and trigger faults that they are currently developing. After the results have been obtained and analyzed, next steps will include improving upon any places where the testing fell short of expected outcomes. Testing with the dynamometer is key to ensuring that the entire vehicle system will perform at competition standards.

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The Mississippi State University EcoCAR 2 team proudly displayed their 2013 Chevrolet Malibu at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) in Dallas, Texas earlier this week. The team was invited to display their fully-integrated center stack design that features Freescale hardware and technology and the president and CEO of Freescale, Gregg Lowe, held a live stream introduction of the vehicle to all FTF attendees.

Mississippi State University is actually one of several teams using Freescale software and hardware to develop their center stack. Most EcoCAR 2 teams use this technology to design a user interface for the vehicle’s touch screen. This screen will allow the driver to control the radio, adjust climate control, see the vehicle’s status through the touch screen implementation, and more.

Check out what EcoCAR 2 teams are doing to incorporate Freescale’s software and hardware into their innovative center stack designs:

 

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The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) EcoCAR 2 team is thankful for the support of the competition’s sponsors. The team extends a special thank you to Snap-on Tools, which has been a dedicated sponsor through each year of competition.

Snap-on, a manufacturer of high-end tools and equipment, is instrumental in providing the equipment and tools necessary in the design process of the vehicle. Without funding and donations from Snap-on, it would have been nearly impossible for the ERAU team to make progress on their vehicle.

Throughout the year and in past Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs), Snap-on has provided generous financial and material support to both ERAU and other EcoCAR teams. In the past year, Snap-on has collaborated with Embry-Riddle and addressed any concerns the team had with the quality of the tools and their proper usage.

The video below highlights Snap-on and their continued support of EcoCAR 2 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Check it out!

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In March, the Purdue EcoMakers communications and technical teams visited Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana to teach the students about EcoCAR 2 and the opportunities that it offers.  The EcoMakers spoke with several of the automotive classes at the school and gave a presentation on the goals and mission of EcoCAR 2.

The EcoMakers present at Jefferson High School

The EcoMakers present at Jefferson High School

The presentation went into detail about the competition and how each team is scored. It also offered technical information about how the different parts of the vehicle work together. The automotive classes were interested in how the electric engine operates, as well as how it was designed and installed in the vehicle.

One of the automotive classes at Jefferson High School is competing in their own competition to create a vehicle that will be raced against other high schools at the end of the year. Many of the students at the school were interested in getting involved with EcoCAR 2 in the future. Overall, the presentation went better than expected and the EcoMakers hope to do more events with Jefferson High School.

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This post was written by the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team

We’re not sure about the other EcoCAR 2 teams, but we sure wish it could be National Engineers Week every week! To make this dream a little closer to reality, we wanted to look back on five ways we educated future generations of engineers during National Engineers Week.

1. Discovery Space

We celebrated National Engineers Week and National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Discovery Space in State College. Discovery Space looks to provide engaging, scientific experiences that spark creativity, curiosity and imagination in children. Our celebration wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without or partnership with Discovery Space.

Two future hybrid vehicle innovators check out our vehicle!

Two future hybrid vehicle innovators check out our vehicle!

2. Mini-Explosions

To introduce STEM career opportunities to youngsters, we created a series of four fun  career exploration activities called “mini-explosions.” The careers we featured were engineer, biologist, astronaut and scientist. Our mini-explosion activity at the scientist table was a kid favorite! We also incorporated a recycling activity that was separate from the career exploration activities.

3. Engaged Parents

While our number one priority was to educate youth at our National Engineer’s Week event, we were pleasantly surprised by the interest and involvement of the adults! Parents enjoyed interacting with our engineers at mini-explosions and some even spent time talking with their children about the experiments. “We had a blast interacting with kids at this event. I think some of the parents enjoyed the activities just as much – if not more – than their children,” said Victoria Scipione, Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team communications team member.

4. Arts and Crafts

We also set up several arts and crafts opportunities for the children. While the kids were busy creating their masterpieces, our team educated them and their families about the science behind the activity. Throughout the event, our goal was to educate children as much as possible while keeping them engaged with some science fun.

5. Vehicle “Show” Sessions

We had two half-hour vehicle viewing sessions during our two-hour event. Communications team members announced the times of the vehicle viewing sessions to participants, then guided them outside where our engineers were ready to show off our vehicle and answer any questions. As usual, our vehicle attracted a lot of attention!

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Team members Josh King and Jake Roberts at the Emissions Testing Event at the Transportation Research Center

Team members Josh King and Jake Roberts at the Emissions Testing Event at the Transportation Research Center

The EcoCAR 2 Year Three Final Competition is right around the corner. To help prepare for the competition, each team attended the Emissions Testing Event at either the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty, Ohio or at Argonne National Lab (ANL) in Chicago, Illinois. There, the teams put their vehicles through dynamometer testing, enabling each team to collect data over various drive cycles. Additionally, each vehicle went through Safety and Technical Inspection to ensure the safety of all components of the vehicle and to identify areas of concern for the Final Competition.

Through the process at the TRC, each team has been able to gather data through completing various drive cycles, including the four cycles which constitute the EcoCAR 2 Emissions & Energy Consumption event: FU505, US06 City, US06 Highway, and HWFET. Teams could also estimate the energy consumed driving to and from the event. Opportunities to do 0-60 mph accelerations and 50-70 mph accelerations were also available. Using this data, the Rose-Hulman EcoCAR 2 team can better predict the petroleum consumption and emissions production of their vehicle and have an idea of how it will perform at the Final Competition.

Jake Roberts, a member of the RHIT controls team, said that “The TRC is a truly impressive facility and we really appreciate how much they have helped us with our car. The transient emissions and shift map data gathered here will help us refine our car and prepare us for Final Competition.”

The Emissions Testing Event at the Transportation Research Center has allowed each team to work hands-on with their vehicle to ensure safety. Team members were able to see the capability of their vehicles through various driving cycles. Most importantly, each team received crucial data to help prepare their vehicle for Final Competition.

“The RHIT EcoCAR2 team is very appreciative of the opportunity to perform dynamometer testing on our vehicle at the TRC,” said RHIT Faculty Co-Advisor Zac Chambers. ”We can now validate some aspects of our vehicle model and make improvements before the final competition.  Thank you, ANL and TRC!”

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The EcoCAR 2 Emissions Testing Event wrapped up late last week and organizers are excited to announce that all 15 teams were able to get in some dynamometer testing during the three-week event!

Colorado State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Victoria were the last teams to test their vehicles when they traveled to Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF). Argonne’s APRF is capable of testing conventional, hybrid, and advanced electrical propulsion systems using a variety of standard and renewable fuels in a precise laboratory environment.

Now that March Emissions Testing Event is over, teams have a little more than eight weeks to prepare for the Year Three Competition.

Until then, check out what teams were able to accomplish at Argonne last week:

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The U.S. Department Of Energy and General Motors have challenged 15 universities to transform a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu into a hybrid vehicle in the latest Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future.

A vehicle that’s cutting edge, pushes the technology envelope and is … uh … built by college students? We know what you are thinking – “how can we be sure that it works?”

Well, have no fear – the Transportation Research Center (TRC) is here!

TRC, an EcoCAR 2 competition-level sponsor, is a 4,500 acre independent automotive proving ground in East Liberty, Ohio. TRC provides certification testing for vehicles and components for crash testing, emissions testing, dynamic testing and durability testing. To make sure their college-student-built vehicle is safe, Ohio State has been working with TRC to develop, prepare and test the reliability of Ohio State’s Parallel-Series Plug-In Hybrid Electric vehicle for the EcoCAR 2 competition.

But this isn’t the first time TRC and Ohio State have worked together. TRC has been collaborating with the Ohio State team for many years as a team sponsor, even before becoming a competition sponsor just this past year.

The Ohio State EcoCAR team, a multi-disciplinary group of engineering, business and communications students, is incredibly lucky to have such a collaborative relationship with TRC.

Watch the video below to see how TRC and Ohio State have worked together throughout the year to be successful at the EcoCAR 2 Year Three Competition!

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