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At the end of the spring semester and after the Year Two Finals, two EcoCAR students – Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech, and Dana Bubonovich, former Outreach Coordinator for Penn State – ventured to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to start their summer internships.

Patrick was hired as a Research Aide at Argonne’s Transportation Technology Research & Development Center (TTRDC). Throughout the summer, he worked on testing activities at the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF).

Patrick working on dyno testing in the lab at Argonne

“The group I am working with is responsible for testing and benchmarking advanced technology vehicles and powertrains,” he said. “The specific project I am working on involves comparing a third generation vehicle drive train to that of a second generation.”

Patrick uses a dynamometer to do a majority of his benchmark testing. The dynamometer has road load capabilities, environmental simulation capability and a comprehensive emissions bench among other features. When fully instrumented, vehicles can be analyzed by researchers in order to determine factors like drive cycle fuel economy and energy use, hybrid operating strategy, thermal effects of drive cycles or environmental conditions and powertrain efficiency. Patrick says the ultimate goal of the research is to determine where the vehicle’s comprehensive update achieved differences in efficiency.

So how will this internship help with his work as co-team leader for the Virginia Tech team?

“At Argonne, the researchers can study almost anything they want, as long as it is justified and funded. I’ll apply much of what I have learned at Argonne to refining the HEVT competition vehicle in Year Three of EcoCAR as well as my future career, which will definitely involve automobiles.”

Dana at a Clean Cities Propane Workshop with former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka

While Patrick was busy working on benchmark testing, Dana Bubonovich spent her time on advanced vehicle technology competitions and EcoCAR. She coordinated the Clean Cities University Internship Program and helped with a broad range of tasks for EcoCAR, including writing posts for this blog. Her primary role was to create professional development opportunities for the Clean Cities interns, maintain communication between the Coalitions and ensure the interns understood the importance of the Clean Cities program. “I’ve been able to utilize my experience with public relations, event planning and social media to create webinars for the interns to learn from,” said Dana. “Most of the interns are in the environmental science field so they really benefited from these webinars.”

She also had the opportunity to sit in on a variety of planning meetings for Year Three of EcoCAR. “It was a unique experience being an organizer rather than a student. When it comes to planning everything from rules to deliverables, it’s a totally different point of view when you’re an organizer.”

What’s next for Patrick and Dana? Patrick returns to Virginia Tech, resuming his role as co-team leader for the VT EcoCAR team. Despite the end of her ANL internship, Dana will continue working for Argonne and join the rest of the AVTC team as a Communications and Logistics Coordinator for EcoCAR. Her work will continue to focus on the Clean Cities program, as well as outreach, logistics and other public relations tasks for the EcoCAR program.

Where Are They Now this week highlights Mel Corrigan (previously Mel Fox), a Penn State and Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) alum who has spent her impressive academic career focused on Fuel Science research which ultimately led to her current position working on one of the most exciting innovations in vehicle technology.

Mel Corrigan began her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at Penn State-Altoona.  Throughout her time at Altoona, she participated in the Society for Automotive Engineering Mini Baja competition.  During her junior year, she moved to the Penn State-University Park campus, where she became involved in undergraduate research studies focusing on diesel exhaust aftertreatment.

While studying at Penn State, Mel interned at Toyota Motor Mfg. in Georgetown, Kentucky in their Facilities Controls Engineering department where she compiled weekly utility consumption reports for the nine plants at the facility.  At that time, Mel also took part in the Energy Team, examining methods of improving energy consumption for vehicle manufacturing processes.

In 2002, Mel obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at Wayne State University where she worked in an engine lab studying diesel combustion, She also participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) project to create safety-related exercises for chemical engineering textbooks.

Mel entered graduate school at Penn State in 2003, starting with a Master’s of Science in Fuel Science.  Her research focused on performing three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics of combustion in a coal-fired boiler.

After completing her Master’s degree, Mel decided to continue her studies and obtain her Ph. D. in Fuel Science.  She shifted gears in her research, moving from modeling to experiments and then began studying the effects of intake-induced turbulence on the combustion characteristics of hydrogen assisted natural gas combustion in a spark-ignition engine.

Mel (Fox) Corrigan

Mel became involved with the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Technologies team during Challenge X. During her graduate studies, Mel received a two-year fellowship that required her to do weekly science outreach in K-12 classrooms.  This program, GREATT (Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies), soon lead her to become the controls team leader for Penn State team in Year Two and the overall team leader during Year Three.

After completing a twelve-week internship in the Powertrain Systems Research group at General Motors during which she lead a project sampling and characterizing particulate matter from diesel combustion, Mel landed her first job with GM.

Mel now works as a Battery System Integration Engineer for the Chevy Volt.  She continues to support advanced vehicle technology competitions and acts as a judge for EcoCAR at workshops and competitions.  EcoCAR is not only thrilled to utilize Mel’s professional expertise, but also grateful to have her perspective as a former competitor as EcoCAR ushers in Year Three.

Call it a Green Garage upgrade. The UVic EcoCAR team is thrilled to have a new cutting-edge garage facility in its near future. The new “Green Vehicle Research and Testing Centre” is currently under construction and when complete, will consist of a garage and testing lab equipped with state-of-the-art automotive testing equipment. Its doors will be open to researchers from UVic as well as public and private sectors who are focused on advancing alternative energy technologies, especially hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric.

The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and members of the UVic EcoCAR team, with one of UVic's green vehicles. Photo Credit: UVic Photo Services

Lead by faculty advisors Curran Crawford and Zuomin Dong, the UVic EcoCAR team will be among those fortunate enough to use the new center, where they plan to perfect their Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) during Year Three of the competition. A key element of the new facility is a vehicle chassis dynamometer – aka ‘dyno’ – which measures speed, torque and power of a vehicle under a range of operating conditions. Think of it like a treadmill, for cars.  “It will allow us to test vehicles in a controlled environment, with more accurate results than using a human driver, and it’s also a lot safer,” said Dr. Crawford. “Ultimately, I think the dyno, and in fact the entire center, will give the EcoCAR team a competitive edge and really further the research that UVic is doing with the automotive industry.”

Yelich and members of the University of Victoria EcoCAR team, pose with the awards won by the team. Photo Credit: UVic Photo Services

Congratulations to UVic and we look forward to a tour of the finished facility in the near future!

The Georgia Tech EcoCAR team is back on campus and back on the road. Since their vehicle’s SOC (state of charge) was at 66.5%, they recently decided to move away from testing engine starts and tried driving EV-only on Mode 1. Team members had to play around with the axle torque command as they needed about 170 Nm to get their vehicle moving on the ground. The team is thrilled because for the first time since they took their powertrain apart several months ago, they had their vehicle moving under its own power! Unfortunately, the team ran into some issues if they pushed too far on the pedal or the requested torque got too high. They were able to drive slowly for a bit around the lot in their garage and going in reverse worked fine.

The Georgia Tech team members collaborated with their GM mentors and addressed the engine difficulties in time for its first GT Interest Meeting of the year. The team was able to mark this occasion by driving the EcoCAR on campus for the first time since last year.

There are many more adjustments left to make, but GT is looking forward to every second of it. They’re gearing up to shock everyone during Year Three, which is going to be the best year yet!

Follow the Georgia Tech team’s every move on Twitter @GTEcoCAR and Facebook.

The Mississippi State University EcoCAR team had an exciting summer as they coordinated and attended several events throughout the state to spread the word about the EcoCAR competition and MSU’s work. Keeping the momentum from Year Two, the student engineers also made several improvements on the vehicle and are proud to have driven more than 500 miles since competition.

As eager students recently arrived on campus, the team held an interest meeting to give new students the opportunity to get involved and become a part of the team. The meeting took place the second week of classes and more than 100 interested students attended to learn more about the EcoCAR competition and the immense range of opportunities it offers.

Over 100 students attended the EcoCAR Interest Meeting!

The team is thrilled by the response, and looks forward to adding new team members and accomplishing great things in Year Three!

This week’s Where Are They Now post features Christopher Haliburton, a 2008 graduate of the University of Waterloo, Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) participant (and now supporter) and current GM validation engineer for the Chevy Volt.

While attending the University of Waterloo, Chris Haliburton participated in Challenge X, the advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) program preceding EcoCAR. As part of the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT), he was able to work on mechanical integration design, systems modeling and rapid vehicle prototyping using the Powertrain Systems Analysis Toolkit developed by Argonne National Laboratory. In the final year of Challenge X, Chris became co-team leader and controls lead, helping to organize and lead a team of more than 20 students to successfully convert the Chevy Equinox into a dedicated fuel cell vehicle.

During his Challenge X experience, Chris was able to learn about General Motors’ Vehicle Design Process, which helped him obtain a job with GM upon graduation. Chris now works with GM’s Hybrid Controls and Integration department at the Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan.

Currently, Chris is a validation engineer for the Chevy Volt, where he maintains a fleet of mule vehicles from a software/hardware perspective.  He is also responsible for vehicle integration by updating software and troubleshooting issues daily as well as during initial vehicle builds.   Chris still likes to help out with EcoCAR, often participating as a judge during competition finals.

Chris has demonstrated that with a lot of hard work in the AVTC program while in school, it’s possible to land a pretty sweet job working on the next advanced vehicle technology coming into production.

Drivers and support teams for the American Le Mans Racing Series visited Madison, Wisconsin on August 18 to promote “green racing” and show their support for the University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team’s research in alternative fuels and technologies that enhance fuel economy.

Several of the American Le Mans race cars and the UW EcoCAR were displayed at the State Capitol, where the team helped inform hundreds of event attendees about emerging hybrid technology and how to minimize tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption without sacrificing performance.

The UW Hybrid Team’s converted SUV appears at the Wisconsin State Capital to promote green vehicle technology as part of the American Le Mans Series promotion

Following the joint promotion at the State Capitol, the University of Wisconsin Hybrid Team traveled to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 22 to see the American Le Mans Series cars in action.

Several classes of race cars swept through the road course at over 150mph, showing that alternative fuels are effective in even the most challenging of automotive applications.

Paul Drayson and co-driver Jonny Cocker of Drayson Racing won the Michelin Green X Challenge and the overall American Le Mans Series race at Road America, driving the E85-fueled Lola-Judd to secure Drayson Racing’s first ever overall triumph.

Drayson’s victory was also the first overall race win for cellulosic E85 ethanol fuel in the 116-race history of the American Le Mans Series, demonstrating the progress being made in alternative fuel performance.

In the GT category, Falken Porsche was the winner of the Michelin Green X Challenge.  The victory means that in the first seven races of 2010, five different teams and six different cars have won GT awards, with 10 out of the overall 12 competitors using E85.

UW Hybrid Team members Matt Michalak, Andrea Sotirin and Adam Richards attend the American Le Mans Series race at Road America

Congratulations to all the American Le Mans Series winners. The University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team was proud to be part of this year’s important event and looks forward to future collaborations!

Although school has been out for summer, members of the UOIT EcoCAR team continued to promote the goals of the competition at a number of large-scale community events. Here are some highlights from the summer:

On June 12, the UOIT EcoCAR team joined two local sustainability organizations, Durham Sustain Ability and Smart Commute Durham, for the Eco Driver program launch. The program was established to encourage fuel-savings and emissions reductions by promoting three core messages: Drive Fuel-Efficiently, Buy Fuel-Efficiently, and Drive Less. The event included a free tire pressure clinic and various demonstrations.

The Eco Driver crew

On July 1, in partnership with Ontario Power Generation, the UOIT EcoCAR team participated in the Town of Pickering’s annual Canada Day celebration event. Activities included Canada-themed crafts for kids, presentations regarding both electric vehicle architecture and sustainable vehicle technologies and a tour of one of the team’s electric buses.

Canada Day event in the Town of Pickering

Finally, on August 27, the UOIT EcoCAR team attended the Oshawa Autofest where they showcased their vehicle and promoted advanced propulsion technologies as part of the annual automotive festival.

School is back in session in less than two weeks – after such a packed summer the UOIT team will undoubtedly have more reports this fall!

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September 2010