A multidisciplinary team of students from West Virginia University has been selected to compete in North America’s premier collegiate automotive engineering competition.
Students from WVU’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism and the College of Education and Human Services will work together as one of 16 teams in EcoCAR3. The Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition Series was established in 1989 by the U.S. Department of Energy to speed the development of vehicles aimed at reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and criteria pollutants while maintaining utility, performance and consumer appeal.
The teams will be working with to convert a Chevrolet Camaro to hybrid electric technology during the competition.
“Colleges are in the thinking business, and I can’t imagine a better use of our students’ brainpower than to develop ways to tackle the energy and environmental challenges that lie ahead,” said WVU President Gordon Gee. “This competition gives students just the kind of practical and theoretical experience they can carry forward into careers.
“And who knows, we may all be driving one of their designs in a few years,” Gee said.
According to Andrew Nix, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at WVU, students participating in EcoCAR3 will face the challenge of converting a stock conventional vehicle into a hybrid electric architecture, which will be designed, integrated and tested throughout the four-year competition.
“The competition provides our students with an unparalleled opportunity to experience a challenging, hands-on, concept-to-production vehicle design project that mirrors the Global Vehicle Development Process used by GM to bring new vehicles to market throughout the world,” said Nix.
Scott Wayne, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, added that a major goal of the competition is to prepare the next generation of automotive engineers and industry professionals to tackle the energy and environmental challenges that lie ahead.
“Participation in EcoCAR3 is equivalent to on-the-job training in the automotive industry and provides students with unique qualifications and exceptional career opportunities upon graduation,” Wayne said. “WVU is excited to have been selected to participate and we look forward to a challenging and rewarding four years of competition.”
The WVU team consists of a multi-disciplinary student effort led engineering faculty advisors that include Wayne and Nix along with Yaser Fallah from the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Diana Martinelli from the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism and Jeffrey Carver from the College of Education and Human Services will lead the team’s public outreach and K-12 educational activities, respectively.
Delaware, Ohio, native Justin Brumley, who will be pursuing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, will serve as the team’s engineering manager. Chelsea Betts of Georgetown, Del., who will be pursuing her master’s degree in journalism, will be the communications manager. They will be assisted by a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students from across the university.
Betts, who was at a press conference held recently to announce the competing teams and vehicle to be used in the competition, noted the enormous “rush of energy” that filled the room.
“Whether your passion lies with engineering, journalism or education; it’s something everyone can get excited about,” Betts said.
EcoCAR3 teams will explore the same technologies that the automotive industry is investigating to improve energy efficiency and dramatically reduce harmful emissions, while addressing combined GHG and corporate average fuel economy regulations. Teams will test E10 gasoline, E85 ethanol, B20 biodiesel and the energy carrier grid electricity combined with advanced hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric powertrains in an effort to develop a marketable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly automobile.
In addition to the Camaro, GM will supply each team with $20,000 in seed money, powertrain components and other production parts, along with extensive technical support and mentoring. The DOE and a large contingent of automotive industry sponsors will donate additional components, software, tools and expert mentoring.
The first year of the competition emphasizes vehicle design, with teams using computer modeling and simulation tools to select, size and bench test power train components.
In years two through four of the competition, teams and their vehicles will be brought together over the summer for competitions consisting of a series of rigorous events, such as vehicle performance and tank-to-wheels energy efficiency, to evaluate performance, design, reliability, safety and utility of the vehicles. Teams will garner points in each of these events with the team that scores the most points winning that year’s EcoCAR3 competition.