Andrew joined the team in the final year of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge competition for his senior design project. “I discovered HEVT through Virginia Tech course request, and being a gear head, I was naturally interested in the project,” Andrew said.
Although there were some challenges and stressful moments throughout the year, the experience and skills he learned were well worth it. “My favorite moment on the team was when we won first place in EcoCAR in Washington D.C.,” Andrew said. “Who doesn’t like being on the winning team?”
“I think it’s great that HEVT is getting more and more students involved,” Andrew said. “If anyone wants to have a job in the auto industry, HEVT gives the necessary tools to excel.” He thinks very highly of the program – not only in the engineering aspect, but of the communication team as well. “I do like the fact that outreach and vehicle updates have improved over the last two years.”
Andrew gained a lot of hands-on experience working on HEVT, and that experience helped jump-start his career. “Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions exposed me to the tools and processes of the auto industry, which has lead me to excel in my profession,” he said.
Team Leader Scott Blackwelder teaches students about the NCSU vehicle
They spoke to approximately 200 middle school students, and enlightened them about the EcoCAR 2 competition and NCSU’s vehicle architecture. The students had a lot of questions and the team provided answers on everything from electrical connections and the battery pack to what it’s like being a student involved in the competition.
The school is located on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus (erected in 2001), and is a magnet STEM-focused school for grades 6-8. It’s not only important for the EcoCAR 2 team at NCSU to reach out to this school to educate 11-14 year olds, but also to instill a partnership with the middle school and to be a resource to their students since NCSU’s Centennial Campus is less than a mile from the middle school.
Robert Morrison from Northern Colorado Clean Cities
Recently, a CCUWDP student was awarded for his contribution to sustainability in the Colorado area. Robert Morrison, intern at the Northern Colorado Clean Cities Coalition, was awarded the 2013 Colorado Mountain College Clean Energy Innovation Student Award for his contribution to sustainability in the Colorado area.
Robert plans on a career in sustainability, and has been preparing for this through the CCUWDP program while working with alternative fuel vehicles at Northern Colorado Clean Cities Coalition. One of Rob’s recent achievements there was organizing a National Plug-In Day event held in Carbondale, CO in September.
For the Denver Clean Cities Coalition, interns have helped them prepare plans to increase electric vehicle infrastructure in the area. The Colorado Electric Vehicle and Charging Infrastructure Readiness Plan, released in December 2012, was an instrumental piece of the Fostering Electric Vehicle Expansion in the Rockies grant. Two CCUWDP interns, Tyler Svitak and Kevin Szewc, assisted with this grant by managing membership databases, organizing meetings, preparing materials for sessions, writing and reviewing website content, conducting education and outreach, and working with the media. Tyler Svitak went on to become the Energy Coordinator for the Coalition after his internship.
Michelle McCutcheon-Schour, former CCWUDP intern and current Coordinator for the Coalition
Michelle McCutcheon-Schour was a former CCWUDP intern for the State of Vermont Clean Cities Coalition in 2011. During her time at the Coalition as an intern, Michelle worked on a wide variety of projects, including developing a video about on-farm bio-diesel production and assisting with fleet manager meetings throughout the state. Thanks to the experience she received through CCUWDP, Michelle was later appointed Coordinator for the Coalition in July 2013 and now leads their vehicle electrification projects and workforce development initiatives.
Congratulations to all of the CCUWDP students on their achievements in the past year, and stay tuned for more highlights of Clean Cities successes through EcoCAR 2!
Sam Panini grew exponentially through his experience as a member of the University of Tennessee FutureTruck team. Panini graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a concentration in power electronics. While working with FutureTruck, his knowledge was a huge benefit to UTK’s Telematics team, which went on to win a Visteon Award for their work. The challenges he faced in the FutureTruck Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) were highly memorable – he recalls, “I remember being very interested in using the computer display to control and monitor the activities of the car. I have vivid memories of the challenge of integrating a custom built CPU into the arm rest that ran on the vehicle’s power supply.”
After graduation and his AVTC experience, Sam moved to Chicago, Illinois to work as a community organizer in immigrant and low-income communities. Here he met his wife, who had immigrated there from Mexico City – and he now speaks fluent Spanish. His wide array of knowledge eventually led him to be hired by Accenture as a member of their Information Management Services group. While holding this position, he was able to work on system implementation projects and project management for many clients, including Chevron, Walgreens and JPMorgan.
Sam now lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil, implementing JPMorgan’s strategic wholesale loan system as part of the firm’s Global Corporate Bank expansion in Latin America. His current profession and location have motivated him to learn Portuguese, and the international experience has provided with extensive knowledge of the risks and rewards associated with working globally. His current success owes a lot to his work with FutureTruck; Panini says that “working on team projects like FutureTruck early on helped me to better understand project dynamics, how to play emphasize the strengths of team members, and how to recognize good ideas in a brainstorm.” Sam Panini learned valuable skills while working on an AVTC team, which he uses to advance his career path everyday.
Earlier this month, the CSULA EcoCAR 2 team got to catch up with EcoCAR 2 alumnus Chris Romo about his experience with CSULA’s team and how it prepared him for his current position.
Mechanical Engineer Chris Romo joined the EcoCAR 2 team as part of his undergraduate graduation requirement, and felt that it was a project where he would gain “real world” engineering experience that he could take with him throughout the rest of his career. As the thermal/fluids department lead, Chris recalls one of his favorite memories of the project. “One of my favorite moments was sending in the final report for the year. It was a real challenge working on the EcoCAR 2 project and going to school at the same time. It took a ton of time and effort to analyze, manage my time, and write up the reports for the project. All in all, it was a great experience – one that I wouldn’t ever change.”
CSULA’s Chris Romo
Today, Chris works for a company called Collision and Injury Dynamics based out of El Segundo, CA. His official title with the company is Junior Forensic Engineer. The company provides vehicular accident reconstruction and biomechanical analysis for anyone seeking independent litigation consulting services. For him, EcoCAR 2 was valuable because it developed his critical thinking skills, forced him to learn a lot more about cars, and made him think in a global manner.
“What I mean by global manner instead of local is that I started to think of the consequences of various designs instead of simply solving design problems. For example, weight and space is a huge issue in a project. Instead of purely designing for the thermal/fluids aspect of a problem, I had to realize that the weight and space of a design would play a huge role in whether or not it was feasible.”
Chris’ advice for anyone joining or thinking of joining the team is to just make the commitment. He emphasizes how much of a great project EcoCAR 2 is and how much more academically challenging and “real” it is compared to other projects out there. He truly believes that if students commit to EcoCAR they will be rewarded educationally, personally, and professionally.
After giving a brief presentation, the team was able to take the firemen to their car and show them around. They were very interested in the vehicle’s architecture and the necessary safety precautions first responders should take when approaching vehicle accidents involving hybrids.
Team member Stephen Hayden shows the Starkville Fire Department the MSU CAVS Chevy Malibu.
The MSU team spent time showing the firemen the precautions we take when working on the vehicle and how these measures could apply to first responders. They were especially interested in the high voltage systems. Team member Stephen Hayden demonstrated to the firemen how the systems are marked and how other systems may be marked in similar fashion.
The team also took time to talk about the EcoCAR 2 competition with the firemen, and were able to answer all of their questions about the work involved in competition. They were genuinely interested in what the team does and asked very pertinent questions.
Everyone on the team had a great time with the firemen – they are a special group and MSU CAVS was proud to serve them in this small way!
It’s always interesting to follow up with alumni and see what road EcoCAR 2 has led them down. Recently interviewed was Wayne State University graduate and former electrical engineering team member, Ashwin Sainathan. During a Q and A, Sainathan talked about his experience with EcoCAR 2 and what he is doing now.
Q: What are you currently doing with your career and/or education?
A: I am currently wrapping up my master’s degree in Electric Drive Vehicle Engineering at Wayne State University as well as finishing up my internship with Tesla Motors. Having gained valuable knowledge on electric vehicles and their components with my specialized masters degree and having the opportunity to do practical stuff with EcoCAR 2 and Telsa Motors, I feel confident in my ability to apply my skills in the electric/hybrid vehicle market and contribute in my own meaningful way towards a greener and cleaner environment.
Wayne State University grad Ashwin Sainathan
Q: How did EcoCAR 2 help you?
A: I have to admit that EcoCAR 2 has played a very important role in my career. It helped me understand the process involved in making hybrid cars, taught me how to work with a team of car enthusiasts, and enabled me to take classroom knowledge and directly apply it to the problem at hand. It gave me the platform to transition seamlessly into the auto industry. My EcoCAR 2 experience was pivotal in my interview performance – the interviewing manager for Telsa was very keen to know what I did as part of the EcoCAR 2 team.
Q: If you could tell future EcoCAR 2 members something great about the program, what would it be?
A: The multi-disciplinary nature of EcoCAR 2 teaches the flexibility to work cross-functionally with different groups in both engineering and business (which is key in the auto industry). If someone is hesitant to work for EcoCAR 2, then stop your second thoughts and just go join the team!
Q: What was the best part about your experience with EcoCAR 2?
A: Along with the right skills and unique technical experience, I also had the opportunity to make friends – not just at my university but also with students from other universities. By talking to them during the workshops, I gained great insight into their thought processes and how they do things. Another important aspect of EcoCAR 2 was the trainings given by industry experts during the workshops. There is no substitute for the trainings that EcoCAR 2 offers students, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn a lot during those.
Q: What doors has this program opened for you and what have you learned from your experience?
A: EcoCAR 2 has given me the opportunity to learn what exactly I want. Many graduates don’t have a clue about what career they want to pursue after graduation, but because I had the opportunity to work on EcoCAR 2, I knew at graduation what kind of career I wanted. EcoCAR 2 also opened up a whole avenue of unique work experience on hybrid vehicle development that many people don’t have.
Q: What are your future goals?
A: Now that I have graduated, my goal is to find the right job in hybrid/electric vehicle segment and put my experience to use. My ultimate goal would be to work on different hybrid powertrain technologies and further enhance my engineering skills. At a later stage, I would like to integrate managerial skills with my technical skills by pursuing studies in management.
A great turnout of more than 240 students participated at the University of Victoria Faculty of Engineering high school tour event earlier this month. Students from the Greater Victoria region were able to ask questions and learn about the design of the UVic EcoCAR. Team members Cameron Dallas, Owen Marshall, and a new volunteer, Charles Jumbo, discussed their role with EcoCAR 2, as well as exciting features of their design.
Left to right – Cameron Dallas, Charles Jumbo, Owen Marshall at the Faculty of Engineering High School Tour Event
The team spoke to Isabella Thorsteinsdottir from Dover Bay Secondary School, who explained why she is interested in volunteering her time with EcoCAR 2.
“You have to get together and share different perspectives with other engineering students,” she said. She later went on to explain why she wants to work on hybrid vehicles: “to create something new and better than what’s out there!”
Students were directed to the University of Victoria EcoCAR 2 Facebook page and Twitter account to keep up with upcoming EcoCAR 2 events. Hopefully, the team will see some of these bright minds on campus in the near future!
“As a chemical engineering student, I really wanted to be involved with the AVTCs because I wanted to work on real world problems with a fantastic team and make a big impact,” he said.
While working on his team’s Challenge X vehicle, Matt and another AVTC alumnus, Chris Mendes, had an idea – is there a way to get paid for this type of work? The answer was simple: they should start their own company – CrossChasm Technologies.
Matt is currently the co-founder and CEO of CrossChasm. He said that the only reason why the company exists is the model-based design skills he learned through AVTCs.
“CrossChasm is trying to take those same model-based design skills and not only help build heavy-duty and off-road vehicles, but also improve the buying and ownership experience for on-road vehicles,” he said.
Three quarters of the CrossChasm team are AVTC alumni. Matt says that the easiest path to joining the CrossChasm family is to be on an AVTC team, because students with AVTC experience tend to walk away with two essential skills: strong teamwork and the ability to execute independently.
Since starting his company, Matt continues to be involved with AVTCs. Not only is CrossChasm a current sponsor of EcoCAR 2, but Matt and other members of the organization are judges at competition.
“I love being able to come back as a judge of the competition and see the products the students have developed and how they’ve grown personally over the first two years of the competition,” he said. He also added that it’s nice to go to the competition and see familiar, friendly faces he’s known for years.
If there’s one thing Matt wants current and prospective AVTC participants to know, it’s to “join the team. AVTCs completely changed my life – I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without the program and I’m incredibly grateful.”
Learn more about Matt and how his involvement in AVTCs helped him launch his own business:
Before he went to college, Chris Golecki only knew how to change the oil and tires on his car.
Now a graduate student, Golecki is helping lead the way to a more sustainable automotive world by competing in EcoCAR 2.
The collegiate automotive engineering competition, which is in its third and final year, challenges 15 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu while retaining its performance, safety and consumer acceptability.
Participating schools include Colorado State, North Carolina State, Purdue, University of Victoria (Canada), the University of Waterloo, Wayne State University and Virginia Tech, among others.
The Mississippi State University EcoCAR team.
“Through my education at Penn State, I built the baseline principles of what I needed to understand and then by joining the Advanced Vehicle Team (and working on the competition) it just was really a high-paced application of everything I learned,” Golecki says.
Kristen De La Rosa, director of EcoCAR 2, says the competition is designed to give students hands-on experience, exposing them to the latest engineering tools, methods and mentors.
Students, typically mechanical engineers, have the option of competing in EcoCAR 2 as part of a senior design course. However, De La Rosa says a handful of other students, like business and communication majors, tend to get involved on their own time as well.
There are about about 1,000 individuals in the program –inlcuding students, graduate students, mentors, faculty and organizers. Each of the 15 universities has a team — some have only 15 members, while others have as many as 100.
“We believe that if we can provide the right training ground for (students) when they’re in school they will develop and really go into the industry ready to bring new technology to the market and bring new innovations,” De La Rosa says.
EcoCAR 2 is a part of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) sponsored by sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The competition also focuses on finding ways to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe emissions, De La Rosa says.
“We certainly see that the next hundred years are going to be focused on advanced technologies and electrification is going to be part of that,” she says. “We really felt like training students on electric vehicle technology, whether it’s hybrids, electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles or alternative fuel vehicle technology, is the way of the future.”
Trevor Crain, a third year master’s student in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington, helped write a proposal for the university’s entry in EcoCAR 2 when he was a senior.
Crain says the proposal stemmed from the fact that many students at the University of Washington expressed interest in automotive engineering, but didn’t have the opportunity to experiment in the field. EcoCAR 2 was the perfect outlet.
“It’s the type of practical, hands-on kind of application that you honestly just can’t get in a classroom,” Crain says. “I really do believe that classroom work is incredibly important but I think that it needs to be supplemented with competitions like this — you get a chance to interact with other engineering students that you’d never be able to in a classroom.”
Cheyenne Sexton, a Penn State senior majoring in public relations, says the work students put into the competition is much different from the work they’ll put into a class.
“When the team has a task and there are meetings I know it’s always interesting to hear someone say, ‘Oh I think I’m making really good progress right now. I’m on track.’ And then someone else will say, ‘Oh, well you have about 50 to 60 more hours of work with that project,’ ” Sexton says. “If you put that in terms of a class project — working straight in the classroom that’s a lot of hours, but in the garage or in the EcoCAR 2 competition thats about normal.”
Over the three year competition, De La Rosa estimates that an average team will spend about 10,000 man hours working on the car.
“All of us are a part of EcoCAR 2 not because we have to, but because we want to,” Sexton says. “Honestly, I think it’s some of the best time I have spent devoted to something so beneficial to my future.”
Last year, Penn State won second year of the competition series. Even though the win was a gratifying moment, Gelocki says he still would’ve been satisfied had Penn State come in last place.
“After putting in hundreds and hundreds of hours I wouldn’t care if [Penn State] lost,” Gelocki says. “From the team’s standpoint we did the best we could. If we won last place I would’ve been just as happy with the effort that we put forth.”
The winning team receives a cash prize and some of the highest performing students often get job offers from companies like General Motors.
“These students — they’re responsible for tens of thousands of dollars — they’re managing huge projects,” De La Rosa says. “These are things that people often need many, many years of experience in the real world before they can command and these students are having to do it at a very young age and in their academic life.”