The Year One Fall Workshop is underway here at Ohio State as students take a crash course in all things EcoCAR 3.

The students have been busy with training since the workshop officially began yesterday. After high-level overviews of hybrids, the architecture selection process, and competition points, teams broke off into groups of technical, communications, and project management to learn more about each of those disciplines.

After a full day of training, the MathWorks and the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research (CAR) welcomed all project managers, engineering managers, and faculty advisors to the CAR facility. The Ohio State CAR is an interdisciplinary research center in The Ohio State University College of Engineering.

Giorgio Rizzoni, CAR Director and Ohio State Faculty Advisor, welcomes students and advisors to the Ohio State CAR facility

Giorgio Rizzoni, CAR Director and Ohio State Faculty Advisor, welcomes students and advisors to the Ohio State CAR facility

CAR research focuses on:

  • Advanced electric propulsion and energy storage systems;
  • Advanced engines and alternative fuels for reduced fuel consumption and emissions;
  • Intelligent transportation and vehicular communication systems;
  • Autonomous vehicles; noise, vibrations, and dynamics;
  • Vehicle chassis systems; and
  • Vehicle and occupant safety.

The facility is also home to several engineering student programs, including the EcoCAR 3 team at Ohio State. The students and faculty advisors were able to tour CAR’s facility and get a first-hand look at the garage space the EcoCAR 3 team uses. This will be important next spring as EcoCAR 3 teams have to prepare their garage facilities for an inspection by organizers.

Thank you again to MathWorks for hosting the event and Ohio State CAR for allowing EcoCAR 3 teams the chance to see your facility!


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Blog written by Chelsea Betts, Communication Manager for the West Virginia University EcoCAR 3 team

West Virginia University. Its home to Mountaineer football, actor Don Knotts, and Jerry West – the famous basketball star whose silhouette decorates the NBA logo. But did you know that West Virginia University (WVU) is also home to the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium?

WVU started the NAFTC in 1992 under contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since its creation, the goal of the organization has been to educate the nation about the importance of alternative transportation technologies and support technicians in the field.

Every two years, the NAFTC hosts what is known as the National Alternative Vehicle Day, often referred to as “Odyssey Day.” Lucky for the WVU team, the NAFTC is right in their backyard.

WVU EcoCAR 3 team members posing in front of their Odyssey Day Display at the Statler College of Engineering on October 15, 2014.

WVU EcoCAR 3 team members posing in front of their Odyssey Day Display at the Statler College of Engineering on October 15, 2014.

Odyssey Day is a celebration of the future in alternative fuel technologies, something that the WVU EcoCAR 3 team knows a lot about. To spread the word to other students on campus, the team decided to educate them not only about EcoCAR 3, but how students can work together with organizations like the NAFTC to limit environmental impact and create a better tomorrow.

After hours of preparation, the day of the event had finally arrived. Even though it was moved inside due to weather implications, several students and faculty flocked to the team’s creative spinning wheel for a chance to play trivia. Spin after spin, students answered questions about EcoCAR, General Motors, the NAFTC, and the Chevy Camaro in an effort to win candy – and bragging rights of course! The spinning trivia wheel wasn’t the only thing to capture student attention. The NAFTC brought three hybrid-electric vehicles, including a Chevy Volt, to showcase and students were lining up for a chance to climb inside.

The WVU team was amazed to see how much students already knew about hybrid-electric technology and how excited they were to learn more. By the end of the day, the WVU team even had several students interested in joining the team!

It is the team’s goal to continue reaching out to students regardless of their major, and the excitement of transforming a Chevy Camaro into a hybrid-electric car is helping do just that.

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By: Clare Maloney, Embry-Riddle Communications Student

As a school with the word “aeronautical” in its name, it came as no surprise that the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) EcoEagles had extensive aerodynamic modifications at the EcoCAR 2 competition this past May.

Among the modifications the EcoEagles researched or implemented into their vehicle were: vortex generators on the rear roof, aerodynamic wheel covers on each wheel, flexible side skirts on the undercarriage, and slot jets on the rear trunk lid. The slot jet modification promised the greatest potential gains as indicated through an initial investigation by team member Domenic Barsotti showing initial results of a 26 percent reduction of the coefficient of drag. To confirm these results, Barsotti and his advisor, Dr. Sandra Boetcher, were able to team up with Argonne National Laboratory’s Transportation Research and Analysis Computing Center (TRACC) to perform higher fidelity simulations.

Streamline diagram of flow field for the 2013 Chevy Malibu generated on the TRACC cluster.

Streamline diagram of flow field for the 2013 Chevy Malibu generated on the TRACC cluster.

Barsotti initiated his research by using an Ahmed body that that is commonly used in research applications to perform low-fidelity initial vehicle simulations at a low computational cost. Barsotti used commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, called Star-CCM+, to simulate the Ahmed body as an analogue for the actual vehicle body both with and without the proposed novel slot jets.

Air flows over the vehicle initially in what is called a laminar flow and disperses into turbulent air called wake vortices.  A laminar flow occurs when a fluid, flows in parallel layers with little turbulence between the layers of air flow. When the air flow reaches the back of the vehicle, the air disperses into numerous, uncontrolled mini-vortices that creates a wake structure and adds a considerable amount of drag to the vehicle. Slot jets inject air at a controlled velocity into the air flow and cause the structure to reform in a lower drag configuration. Initial results on the Ahmed body demonstrated success, but to validate it the team needed to run the simulation on the actual Malibu model.

Argonne enabled the team to test this aerodynamic modification by allowing the students access to their TRACC cluster. Using the TRACC cluster the team was able to simulate the full Malibu model with slot jets in different configurations. Through the use of proper orthogonal decomposition (POD), the team was able to apply the software Mathcad to analyze the airflow into comprehensible arrangements based on their kinetic energy created by the slot jets. First results from the TRACC cluster indicate that these slot jets are less efficient on the actual Malibu model than the Ahmed model, but still promise significant improvements to the efficiency of the vehicle.

Although the work is still in progress, Barsotti was able to use this research as his thesis work to graduate and start a career in professional CFD analysis with CD-adapco. The EcoEagles and Dr. Boetcher are looking forward to continuing their research in the coming year and potentially implementing the slot jets onto their Chevrolet Camaro for EcoCAR 3!

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Over the years, many Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) graduates have gone on to do great things. The real-world experience gained from the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) of Virginia Tech is always helpful in new careers—none more relevant than 2012-2013 HEVT electrical subteam leader, Brian Kelly.

Since graduating, Brian has been working with Proterra as a mechanical engineer. Brian’s experience with HEVT has given him a range of skills to use in his work with Proterra.

Kelly (first row, far left) with the HEVT team during the EcoCAR 2 - Year Two Compeition

Kelly (first row, far left) with the HEVT team during the EcoCAR 2 – Year Two Compeition

“I am in charge of all of the mechanical subsystems of the high and low voltage modules of the bus,” said Brian. “EcoCAR helped me get a lot of electrical experience. I now know what conditions need to be met on both the electrical and mechanical side.”

Since Brian works on an all-electric bus as a mechanical engineer, he is a sort of hybrid himself. His co-workers jokingly call him a “mech-elec,” meaning mechanical electrical engineer. He is using a lot of CAD to work on designs for the newest version Proterra’s electric bus. He is in charge of all of the mechanical subsystems of the high and low voltage modules of the bus. If an electrical component needs a place to be mounted, he designs a way to integrate it.

Kelly (right) talks to a student  on behalf of Proterra during a Sponsor Social

Kelly (right) talks to a student on behalf of Proterra during a Sponsor Social

Being a mechanical engineering major, he had very little knowledge of electrical systems before his work with HEVT. Brian leveraged his experience and networking from EcoCAR to land his current job with Proterra.
Brian said it best, “There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my involvement with EcoCAR.”

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Kerry Grand’s experience with Advanced Vehicles Technology Competitions (AVTCs) began while he was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University (LTU). Kerry knew he wanted to become involved with the program when he learned about the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Challenge. Kerry had begun working on the program by the time he began his senior project.

Kerry says AVTCs were instrumental in preparing him for his first job. “You acquire a lot of knowledge about different tools at school. But, working on the HEV Challenge requiredthe application of that knowledge. I think that’s what helped me transition into my first job out of college,” said Kerry.

Kerry’s first job after graduation was with General Motors. He worked in several divisions, including body control modules and powertrain controls. He later went on to work for Ford Motor Company, where he focused on the vehicle control interface, motor controls development and permanent magnet motor control conversion. In Kerry’s current position as principle technical consultant at MathWorks, he assists customers who are migrating into model-based design.

Throughout Kerry’s career, he has demonstrated a strong work ethic and passion for innovation. He currently has 14 patents – an accomplishment that few people in the world can match. “The starting point for any invention disclosure is a problem that hasn’t been solved,” said Kerry. “Having the idea for something that can be successfully implemented and used in a vehicle feels very rewarding.”

AVTCs have changed significantly in the time since Kerry was in the competition. He recalls a lot of pencil and paper design and calculations, which have changed with the development of new technology. “I think it’s vastly different in the way we implement technology, the software tools that were available and just the methodologies to get that idea or concept into some sort of functioning hardware,” Kerry said.

Kerry said the hands-on experience and exposure to model-based design are invaluable for students involved with AVTCs. He believes the real-world experience from AVTCs sets these students apart from those who have only an educational knowledge of the industry.

Learn more about how AVTCs helped Kerry achieve success:

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Hybrids are the new thing – even at the racetrack!

The EcoCAR 2 Year Three competition’s winning vehicle from Ohio State University was on display just this past weekend with Chevrolet at the Kansas Speedway for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup. Eager NASCAR fans were able to see the current vehicle line-up of Chevrolet vehicles, while also checking out the student-built vehicle.

Sarah Jadwin (left) and M.J. Yatkso (right) with the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 vehicle at the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Sarah Jadwin (left) and M.J. Yatkso (right) with the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 vehicle at the NASCAR Sprint Cup

M.J. Yatsko, Ohio State’s co-engineering manager and Sarah Jadwin, Ohio State’s communications manager for the team, traveled out to Kansas City for the event.

“It was a really unique experience. We had the chance to share what we have done with our EcoCAR 2 vehicle with an audience that is just starting to adopt advanced vehicle technologies,” said M.J. Yatsko. “Everyone was really excited and enthusiastic about hybrid technologies – in fact, one gentleman told us he couldn’t wait to buy a hybrid!”

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu on display recently won the EcoCAR 2 competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, with its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle architecture. The student designed vehicle can travel up to 50 miles on all-electric power, followed by range-extended miles using a high compression ratio engine and ethanol (E85) fuel.


M.J. and Sarah also were able to spread the word about the newest AVTC – EcoCAR 3, which is challenging 16 universities to build a performance hybrid using the Chevrolet Camaro platform.

“A lot of eyes lit up when we said the word ‘Camaro’ – they can’t wait to see it when it is finished!”

Check out photos of the event on the team’s Facebook page (Ohio State University EcoCAR 3), as well as Instagram account (@osuecocar)!

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Amanda Womac, a University of Tennessee graduate and President of the UT Science Forum, assembled a Science Forum at the university on earlier this year with the help of Dr. Littman, an esteemed journalism professor at the University known for his scientific writing skills, titled “Arctic Alaska: Wild, Wonderful, and Warming”. However, Amanda is not an environmental scientist. Instead, she graduated in 2008 with her Masters of Science in Journalism. So why is she so involved in the science related to going green?

During her time at the university, Amanda was the Marketing Coordinator for the UT-Knoxville Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, Challenge X. Since then, Amanda has furthered her writing career as well as continued to follow her passion for helping the environment, which she discovered during her days as the Marketing Coordinator for the competition.

Sarah Zimmerman (left), former Communications Manager for Team Tennessee, meets with Amanda Womac (right), a previous Marketing Coordinator, at UT Science Forum.

Sarah Zimmerman (left), former Communications Manager for Team Tennessee, meets with Amanda Womac (right), a previous Marketing Coordinator, at UT Science Forum.

Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility (2004-2008) was a four-year engineering competition that provided the opportunity for 17 North American universities to develop advanced propulsion technology solutions that increased energy efficiency and reduced the environmental impact of light-duty vehicles, specifically a Chevrolet Equinox. Amanda’s role, as the Marketing Coordinator, was to create press releases, presentations and marketing materials for Team Tennessee. When asked about her roll in a highly technical engineering competition, Amanda replied, “I am not an engineer, so my biggest challenge was my crash course in mechanical engineering. I have a master of science in science journalism and applied my skills as a communicator (for the team).”

Since graduation, Amanda has served in many positions including a writer, speaker and non-profit consultant. All of these positions tie into what Amanda learned through her experience with Challenge X. After the competition, Amanda continued to improve her writing and communication skills through her work as a part-time technical writer for the Hearing and Speech Foundation (HSF). In 2009 she became Executive Director of the organization. Amanda currently uses the knowledge she acquired from Challenge X, about green technology and environment preservation, in her professional freelance science writing and nonprofit consulting.

Furthermore, Amanda “serves on the board for the Sequatchie Valley Institute, a nonprofit environmental education center outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee.” She is also affiliated with the Society of Environmental Journalists and the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists. Amanda plans to return to the university and provide the current EcoCAR team with some insight into public speaking. This will help the entire team with their presentation skills for future outreach events and competition presentations.

To learn more about Amanda Womac, visit her website

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With less than three weeks until the Fall Workshop, EcoCAR 3 teams are eager to continue learning about the new competition! Held October 21-24, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio, EcoCAR 3 will team up with the The Ohio State University to host the Fall Workshop.

FW Banner_FINAL3Over the four-day workshop, teams will participate in multi-track training from several competition-level sponsors, including General Motors, U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, MathWorks, and Siemens. Additionally, there will be component deep dives from GKN Driveline, Bosch, A123 Systems, EnerDel, dSPACE, Woodward, and New Eagle.

Project Managers, Communications Managers, and Faculty Advisors have dedicated tracks as well and EcoCAR 3 teams have a great opportunity to attend a Sponsor Social Networking and Recruiting event on Thursday, October 23.

Registration for the event is open, so talk to your team’s Faculty Advisor or Project Manager for more information! As always, stay up-to-date with the latest EcoCAR 3 news by visiting Facebook and Twitter.

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This post is written by Dave Shirley and Rich Maltzman of EarthPM.

The key word from the Kickoff Workshop session for EcoCAR 3?  It’s UP.

  • Starting up: we talked about initiation, getting the project’s stakeholders identified, the team motivated, and the broad-brush scope figured out.
  • Looking up: creating and connecting the team’s work to a mission statement and vision to which team members can align and feel good about
  • Divvying up: negotiating and arranging solutions that benefit both parties in a conflicting situation (see the photo of the intensity at one of our negotiation exercises!)
  • Staffing up: understanding the personality types that can be involved and how understanding ourselves and others is key to solid and meaningful communications
  • Stepping up: buying into the idea that project managers are change leaders and need to “carry the torch” for the project’s mission and vision
  • Goofing up: knowing that we will make mistakes and learn from them as we “progressively elaborate” the project through all of its phases

The word UP also applies to not only our mission but another mission that had a major milestone just last week – MAVEN.  If you’re unfamiliar with MAVEN, we’re here to make you a “maven” on it.  According to NASA, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission is part of NASA’s Mars Scout program, funded by NASA Headquarters. Launched in Nov. 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.  Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

EcoCAR 3 students during an intense negotiation exercise at the Kickoff Workshop

EcoCAR 3 students during an intense negotiation exercise at the Kickoff Workshop

On Sunday, September 21st at about 10:30 PM, MAVEN successfully went into orbit around Mars.  How does this relate to our project?  It’s about collecting facts on Mars’ climate and it’s geared to help understand what happened there which may help us understand Earth’s climate and possible changes we face.  It’s about understanding the mechanics of the situation and making intelligent analogies.  So it’s at the intersection of sustainability and project management, just like EarthPM.  So here’s another UP example – way, way UP!  You can read more about this connection on EarthPM’s ProjectsAtWork channel.

In our next session we will shift the focus from up to down – it is “Fall”, after all – to  concentrate on such project planning activities as the work breakdown structure, risk identification, and the advance planning we need to  prevent communications breakdowns.  So we will see you down in Columbus, Ohio and are looking forward all of the ups and downs!


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Earlier this month, organizers from Argonne National Laboratory, General Motors, and the U.S. Department of Energy came together to discuss the EcoCAR 3 program with the Year One Faculty Advisory Board (FAB).

The FAB consists of four EcoCAR faculty advisors who come from a mix of veteran and incoming teams involved in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC), including Patrick Currier, Embry-Riddle; Paul Puzinauskas, University of Alabama; Brian Fabien, University of Washington; and Doug Nelson, Virginia Tech.

The College of Engineering and Mineral Sciences at West Virginia University. Photo by West Virginia University

The College of Engineering and Mineral Sciences at West Virginia University. Photo by West Virginia University

Hosted at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, West Virginia, the FAB provided critical academic input on Year One of the competition series, before the organizers begin implementing the changes this academic year. The Fall FAB meeting covered a variety of topics, including the Non-Year Specific Rules and the Year One Event Rules, as well as the upcoming workshops and other major events scheduled this year. The FAB also briefly discussed new additions to the competition, including the project management and innovation swimlanes.

In addition, AVTC Program Director Kristen De La Rosa was able to meet with university administration, including the Dean of Engineering at WVU, to discuss the participation the university’s participation in AVTCs, which dated back to the first Methanol Marathon in 1988. The West Virginia University team was also able to sit down with organizers for some quality discussion time as well in the various swimlanes for EcoCAR 3.

“West Virginia University is very excited to be back in the EcoCAR competition.  AVTCs are the most comprehensive student design competitions in existence and prepares students well for a career in various aspects of the automotive industry, from engineering to project management to public relations,” said Andrew Nix, faculty advisor for WVU. “Having the organizers from Argonne, General Motors and Department of Energy here at WVU for the three-day faculty advisory board meeting provided our faculty and students a look into the development process of the competition and gave the students a great opportunity to meet the organizers.”

The FAB will meet again in January at the University of Alabama for the Winter FAB and the organizers would like to thank West Virginia University for hosting the Fall FAB!

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