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MATLAB and Simulink are pretty important programs for many EcoCAR 2 teams. It’s nearly impossible to write model-based design code without such programs – and thanks to one generous sponsor, the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team (AVT) won’t ever have to experience this.

The PSU AVT has competed in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) like EcoCAR 2 since 1988. This three-year North American competition challenges students to re-engineer a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to reduce its environmental impact while maintaining consumer acceptability.

PSU AVT engineers graduate with unparalleled, hands-on automotive experience, but getting there would be nearly impossible without the help of one company: MathWorks.

In 1984, Jack Little and Cleve Moler recognized the need among engineers and scientists for more powerful and productive computation environments. To address this need, they co-founded MathWorks and created MATLAB and Simulink, two leading pieces model-based design and simulation software, respectively.

Brad Hieb, principle application engineer, said MathWorks contributes to EcoCAR 2 because it allows the company to invest in the future of students.

“We support the next generation of scientists and engineers,” Hieb said. “They’re going to be productive on the job right at day one.”

According to PSU AVT team leader Chris Golecki, access to MATLAB and Simulink is one of the reasons PSU AVT has found success throughout the competition.

“Without these programs, we’d have to use some other programming language to write our code,” Golecki said. “For us, Simulink is the keystone to our algorithm bridge.”

To learn more about the team’s collaboration with MathWorks, watch the video below!

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Who can answer any question about the Ohio State University EcoCAR 2 Team’s vehicle engine? Andy Garcia can!

Advanced Technology Vehicle Competition (AVTC) alumnus Andy Garcia was part of The Ohio State University team during the first two years of the EcoCAR 2 competition. Andy was the Engine Team Leader and worked on the development and calibration of the software used on the engine.

Andy now works as an Engine Calibration Verification Engineer for General Motors in Milford, Michigan. He specifically works on verifying engine calibrations for the extended range electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR. Thanks to his involvement in EcoCAR, Andy was better prepared to move into the automotive industry.

Andy (left) pictured with Pete Maloney of MathWorks (center) and OSU's Year Two Team Leader Katherine Bovee (right) at the Year Two Competition Finals

Andy (left) pictured with Pete Maloney of MathWorks (center) and OSU’s Year Two Team Leader Katherine Bovee (right) at the Year Two Competition Finals

“EcoCAR allowed me to gain hands-on experience and leadership skills that I utilize daily in my job,” said Andy. “The knowledge and contacts I obtained during EcoCAR 2 did a lot to prepare me for this position.”

Andy attended The Ohio State University for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. In addition to the EcoCAR team, Andy was also involved with the Formula SAE team at the OSU Center for Automotive Research.

His best memory from EcoCAR 2 was the Year Two Final Competition in Yuma, Arizona.

“It was quite an experience working in the garage. The problems that the team faced were challenging, but we were all able to work together.”

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Last week, EcoCAR 2 students who attended the Fall Workshop were able to get hands-on training from competition-level sponsors MathWorksdSPACE, and Freescale.

While the training sessions allowed teams to interact with the sponsors, they were also able to learn about the donated hardware and software. Mathworks hosted three days of MATLAB and Simulink training, which educated teams on how to develop control simulations for their plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

In addition, dSPACE provided training on their MicroAutoBox, which allows better controller functionality and testing data for teams, and Freescale provided training on their donated touch screens and software for teams who are designing personalized center stacks.

Learn more about how MathWorks, dSPACE, and Freescale software and hardware are helping EcoCAR 2 students become the future of the automobile industry:

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A University of Waterloo connects with Siemens at the Fall Workshop

A University of Waterloo connects with Siemens at the Fall Workshop

Faculty Advisor David Blekham (left) talks with Bosch at the Sponsor Social

Faculty Advisor David Blekham (left) talks with Bosch at the Sponsor Social










The final Fall Workshop of the EcoCAR 2 series is officially underway at MathWorks’ headquarters in Natick, MA!

The workshop, which began Wednesday evening with student registration, features a variety of training sessions for EcoCAR 2 teams. These training sessions will help prepare teams for the Year Three deliverables and will provide teams the understanding and knowledge to refine their plug-in hybrid electric vehicles throughout Year Three.

After an extensive day of training sessions from competition-level sponsors, students attended the Sponsor Social Networking and Recruiting event. EcoCAR 2 students seeking full-time, internship, or co-op positions were able to network and connect with sponsors throughout the evening. This year, more than 15 sponsors exhibited at the event, including General Motors, MathWorks, Clean Cities, dSPACE, Freescale, AVL Powertrain Engineering, TRC, ETAS, Magna, Bosch, Siemens, Vector, GKN Driveline, QNX Systems, and Proterra.

Now, students are ready for Day 2 of the workshop, which includes special video training, project management courses, and one-on-one sessions with sponsors.

Stay connected to EcoCAR 2 during the Fall Workshop by visiting Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Lauren Tabolinsky, Student Competitions Specialist at MathWorks, welcomes EcoCAR 2 teams to the MathWorks headquarters this week!


MathWorks cannot wait to host the 15 EcoCAR 2 teams, sponsors, and organizers at the Fall Workshop at our Natick, MA campus September 25-29, 2013.

Over the five-day workshop, teams will participate in multi-track training on software and components from several competition-level sponsors, including General Motors, U.S. Department of Energy, MathWorks, dSPACE, A123 Systems, Freescale, AVL Powertrain Engineering, Magna Powertrain, Siemens, Vector, GKN Driveline, and QNX Systems. Communications and business managers have dedicated tracks where they will learn about the deliverables for the year, video and media training, project management, and several professional development panels.

EcoCAR 2 teams also have a great opportunity to attend a Sponsor Social Networking and Recruiting event on Thursday evening and an evening event at Cheers on Saturday evening, hosted by MathWorks!

We look forward to seeing all 15 teams, sponsors and organizers at the Fall Workshop and are happy to welcome you all to our beautiful Natick campus!

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Ohio State’s Engine

Designing and building an advanced hybrid vehicle is no easy task; it takes multiple years and many skilled engineers to produce a consumer vehicle. The EcoCAR 2 team at Ohio State faces these challenges daily.

The team decided to use a 1.8L 4-cylinder high compression ratio engine that has been calibrated for E85 fuel. This specific type of fuel was chosen for its high octane rating, which can produce higher efficiencies leading to better overall fuel economy. Calibrating the engine to run on E85 fuel was a difficult task because it required the team to program a complete engine control algorithm from the ground up. But, with the work of many Ohio State students, including engine control systems lead Andy Garcia, the code was completed using Simulink from Mathworks. As a result of these ambitious efforts, the engine can achieve best-in-class efficiency for a spark ignition engine at 40 percent brake thermal efficiency.

In Year Three, Ohio State will try to improve on this already highly efficient engine. Some of the improvements include heated fuel injectors and active knock control. The heated fuel injectors will help improve the start-up of the vehicle in colder conditions by heating the fuel before reaching the combustion chamber. Also, the heated fuel injectors will assist in reducing tailpipe emissions. The active knock control will allow the engine to push the limits of spark advance, creating higher efficiencies.

There is a lot of work ahead to be completed, but the team is excited and ready for the challenge!

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Lauren Tabolinksy, Student Competition Program Specialist at MathWorks, shares her thoughts and congratulations with the winners of the Year Two MathWorks Modeling Award:

This year, MathWorks sponsored a Modeling Award for the Year Two Competition. EcoCAR 2 teams were assessed on how well they applied Model-Based Design concepts using MathWorks tools, including the key areas of plant modeling, control design and tuning, data analysis, industrial grade model-based design development process elements and lessons learned.

Eleven EcoCAR 2 teams participated in the MathWorks Modeling Award this year, and in the end, the University of Victoria took home the top prize. They used online and offline parallel optimization of fuel economy at the vehicle level and MathWorks was very impressed with the enthusiasm and professionalism of the student presenters.

MathWorks would also like to congratulate Mississippi State University and Ohio State University, who won 3rd and 2nd place respectively.

On behalf of MathWorks, congratulations to all of the teams who participated in the Modeling Award this year. We were very impressed with the quality of the presentations!

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MathWorks is one of the leading developers of mathematical computer software and just one of the instrumental sponsors that make the EcoCAR project possible.

At The Ohio State University, EcoCAR 2 students wouldn’t know where to start in rebuilding their vehicle without the use of MathWorks software. The OSU team uses MathWorks software in a number of different areas, including engine control, vehicle performance simulation and testing to ensure safe and reliable software to operate the vehicle.

The engine that the OSU team chose to use for the EcoCAR competition was originally a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine. In order to make the engine work for the competition, the team converted the engine to run on ethanol fuel. This conversion was made possible through the use of MathWorks software such as Matlab and Simulink, which allowed the team to rewrite the entire engine control code.

Another aspect of collaboration between MathWorks and OSU has been the development of a vehicle simulator developed by the Ohio State team called EcoSIM. Without the use of MathWorks software to create this model, it would be impossible to test the Malibu controls outside of the actual vehicle. EcoSIM makes it possible for the team to develop and refine the control software to make sure the vehicle is functioning properly.

Finally, the team has been using model coverage, another valuable tool in the MathWorks software. Model coverage tools can tell the team which areas of control code have or have not been fully tested, thus improving the safety and functionality of the vehicle controls before testing them in the vehicle. However, to get this model working properly for the team, the team had to reach out to MathWorks for some additional support.

The Ohio State’s MathWorks mentor, Shaun Kalinowski, helped the OSU team work to develop and refine their model coverage system for the vehicle.

“Amanda Hyde contacted me because she wanted to take her test and verification for her model one step further. Amanda wanted to actually do further verification to ensure that her team’s model was error free. This was the first time I had seen an EcoCAR team try to take these next steps in model verification. Amanda was having some issues getting her model to run correctly. It didn’t take us very long to work together before she had Simulink verification giving model analysis results,” Shawn Kalinowski said.

Shaun, who has been an EcoCAR mentor for over four years, has enjoyed his time as a mentor. ”It has been fun and very rewarding to see student engineers take their concepts and get them functioning and working on a vehicle leveraging all the technology. This is very encouraging to me, and it should be encouraging to all of us, because these really are the next generation of engineers that are going to be designing the cars that you and I drive in.”

Without the use of MathWorks software, the Ohio State team would not be able to accomplish the entire Vehicle Development Process in the competition timeline of three years. MathWorks involvement has made it possible for the Ohio State team to safely and efficiently rebuild their 2013 Chevy Malibu!

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MathWorks is proud to announce the MathWorks Modeling Award for Year Two of EcoCAR 2!  The award will be structured to provide a cash prize to the team that best applies MathWorks tools in support of the Year Two competition deliverables.

The teams must demonstrate how they have applied the core concepts of model-based design with MathWorks tools to help achieve the overall competition objectives. They must also show the judges models that address plant modeling, control design and tuning, data analysis, industrial grade model-based design development process elements and lessons learned.

The award will be judged based on a 25-35 minute walk-through of the teams’ MATLAB/Simulink models and a follow-up Q&A session. There will be no PowerPoint slides required or allowed in this event.

Teams can find the official event operations description for the MathWorks Modeling Award on the EcoCAR 2 SharePoint. The deadline to apply for the award is May 9, 2013, with presentations occurring on May 22, 2013 at the Westin Gaslamp in San Diego, California. Teams are encouraged to reach out to their MathWorks mentors with any questions.

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Sitting in the lab for hours on end, one Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team member has dedicated his time to developing the vehicle’s auxiliary power unit (APU) supervisory control algorithm—and it’s just as challenging as it sounds.

“The biggest thing is just getting it all to work together right now,” said controls team member Sam Foran.

Foran said the APU consists of the UQM generator and Weber engine coupled together. It’s the difference between an all-electric and a hybrid vehicle. When the vehicle needs more power, the APU will kick on to create additional electricity from the E-85 powered engine so the operator is not forced to plug the vehicle in to recharge it completely.

Using MATLAB, Simulink, MotoHawk and Stateflow, Foran is working on the algorithm that will control the unit to determine exactly when the generator and engine should turn on. He is also developing a charge-sustaining button that will automatically kick in to maintain the charge level.

Although the most important thing right now is getting the generator up and running, next year the team will focus on refinement and reducing emissions further.

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