he U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors and MathWorks have announced the launch of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, the latest DOE-sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC), revealing the 12 competing universities and the Chevrolet Blazer as the vehicle platform selected for the competition.
The headline sponsors are the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, and MathWorks, and the challenge will be managed by Argonne National Laboratory, creating an ideal training ground for future leaders in the automotive industry.
“The future of transportation and mobility is evolving and bringing forth new technologies, challenges and opportunities,” said Acting Assistant Secretary, Cathy Tripodi. “The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge allows students to develop innovative technologies to keep America at the forefront of this changing landscape and provide consumers convenient, cost-effective options for personal mobility.”
EcoCAR is a collegiate automotive competition aimed at developing a highly skilled, domestic workforce by providing hands-on experience designing and building next-generation mobility solutions to meet our nation’s future energy and mobility challenges. Participating teams will apply advanced propulsion systems, electrification, SAE Level 2 automation and vehicle connectivity to improve the energy efficiency of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer – all while balancing factors such as emissions, safety, utility and consumer acceptability. SAE Level 2 automation refers to a vehicle that has combined automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but the driver must remain engaged with the driving task and monitor the environment at all times.
EcoCAR teams will use on-board sensors and wireless communication from the vehicles’ surrounding environment to improve overall operation efficiency in the connected urban environment of the future.
General Motors will provide each team with a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, which they have four years to design, integrate and refine into a new, advanced technology, energy-efficient mobility solution for the carsharing market. Teams will follow a real-world vehicle development process to meet rigorous technical constraints throughout the four-year competition, which will conclude in the summer of 2022.
“We continue to support EcoCAR because students gain tremendous technical insights, leadership skills and hands-on experience while competing in AVTCs,” said Dan Nicholson, GM vice president, Global Propulsion Systems. “The challenges and solutions these students will develop working with their Chevrolet Blazers align with GM’s path to zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”
A foundational principle of EcoCAR is the use of Model-Based Design, a mathematical and visual design approach using MATLAB and Simulink that enables users to quickly and cost-effectively manage projects, collaborate on designs and develop complex embedded systems.
“EcoCAR serves as an experimental laboratory, where students get to play and learn with real-world tools and technologies that will help them secure jobs and build careers,” said Lauren Tabolinsky, academic program manager, MathWorks. “We are excited to once again partner with the DOE and GM in supporting this next generation of engineers as they adopt multi-disciplinary design and development approaches to experiment, fine-tune and succeed in this challenge.”
To be successful, universities will need to recruit a diverse team of students and faculty, spanning many engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, computer and software engineering, as well as communications, marketing and project management. This multi-disciplinary emphasis imitates a real-world automotive industry environment and provides graduates the technical and leadership skills needed to enter the field fully prepared for careers that will help shape the energy and mobility industry for years to come.
The participating universities include:
- Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado)
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Florida)
- Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Georgia)
- McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
- Mississippi State University (Starkville, Mississippi)
- The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
- University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, Tennessee)
- University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)
- University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
- Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia)
- West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia)
“EcoCAR puts students in the driver’s seat of their education by providing hands-on, technical training mirroring the real-world product development process of a General Motors vehicle,” said Kristen Wahl, director of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) program at Argonne National Laboratory. “In the face of increasing global competition, EcoCAR showcases North America’s best and brightest students in STEM and exemplifies American competitiveness in automotive engineering.”
EcoCAR builds on a proud 30-year history of DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions that exemplify the power of public-private partnerships in providing invaluable hands-on skills to promising, young minds ready to enter the workforce. AVTCs influence and shape engineering curriculum at the university level to cultivate future transportation leaders and enhance the North American engineering workforce.
Additional sponsors joining DOE, General Motors and MathWorks include: NXP Semiconductors Inc.; National Science Foundation; Intel Corp.; American Axle Manufacturing; Robert Bosch LLC; PACCAR Inc.; dSPACE Inc.; Siemens PLM Software; DENSO International America; Horiba; Delphi Technologies; California Air Resources Board; Proterra Inc; tesa tape; Vector North America Inc.; The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.
For more information about the student engineering program, the participating schools or the competition sponsors, visit avtcseries.org.