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Today, EcoCAR is marking the official 48-day countdown to the competition Finals!

16 teams x 3 years = 48 days remaining

 Lucky number 48 signifies the nexus of the 16 collegiate teams who dedicated three purposeful years to reduce the environmental impact of their EcoCAR vehicles without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

Photo: Rob and Stephanie Levy, Flickr

Check back to the blog to follow our real-time ticker and to read testimonials from the 16 teams that participated in the competition. The teams will be sharing their favorite memories from the last three years and posting photos and videos as we get down to the wire!

It’s crunch time!

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The University of Waterloo Engineering Department recently held a day of exploration for local elementary students and their parents. The goal was to educate the community on the amazing projects being undertaken at the university. The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) was front and center for the event, holding interactive outreach presentations that displayed their engineering expertise and the opportunities of being a team in the EcoCAR Challenge.

In total more than 1,500 students and parents passed through the EcoCAR exhibit. Students were particularly interested in learning how hydrogen could be sourced as a fuel for the team’s vehicle.  Since hydrogen can be separated from water (H2O) through electrolysis, the team’s engineers demonstrated how electricity generated from clean sources like the sun could be used to create hydrogen and power a fuel cell vehicle.

UWAFT members Paul Nowosielski and Gurhari Singh explain the environmental benefits of their Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

The day after the engineering department event, UWAFT was at it again, as the EcoCAR exhibit hosted 7,000 high school students and their parents for Waterloo’s annual March Break Open House.  As aspiring university students and future engineers, these youngsters discovered that much of their future learning at university could very well occur outside the classroom. UWAFT highlighted the main goals and challenges of the EcoCAR competition, as well as showcasing the team’s work with industry and government to help green the automotive industry.  Parents were eager to get their children involved in a program that offers the fantastic undergraduate opportunity to work on real-world vehicles that could make a difference for generations to come.

Fuel efficiency has been a huge theme at this week’s New York International Auto Show, and in keeping with that trend, Edmunds named the show’s five standout cars. One of the standouts was the newly unveiled 2013 Chevy Malibu!

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Edmunds admired the size of the Malibu in particular: “Chevy bucks the ‘bigger is better’ trend that has dominated the midsize-sedan segment in recent years by going smaller with the 2013 Malibu,” said writer Warren Clarke in a blog post.

GM will be donating a 2013 Chevy Malibu to all sixteen schools competing in EcoCAR 2. We’re excited to see the teams further reduce the environmental impact of the already fuel efficient Malibu, while maintaining the consumer appeal that made the car such a hit this week in New York!

When President Obama held a town hall-style meeting at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California last week, one of his major focuses was clean energy innovation. Developing new technologies clearly remains a key part of the President’s plan to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Obama also alluded to his goal of having a million electric vehicles on the road, saying that domestic battery innovation was crucial to making electric cars more affordable. The student teams in the EcoCAR competition are making these clean energy technologies of the future possible, and the President mentioned how integral education will be in creating opportunities for scientific breakthroughs.

To read more and watch video of President Obama’s town hall meeting at Facebook, check out the DOE blog post about the event!

Last Friday was the 41st anniversary of Earth Day in the United States. EcoCAR teams decided to celebrate by giving back to their local communities and celebrating a greener Earth throughout the week. Teams held ride and drives, participated in environmentally friendly events, and promoted the EcoCAR competition in their communities.

EcoCAR teams took the opportunity to work with local Clean Cities Coalitions to promote Earth Day as well! Georgia Tech’s EcoCAR team partnered with Clean Cities Atlanta to participate in the 14th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Georgia Tech’s campus, which was chosen to host the team’s consumer campaign. More than 3,000 people attended the Earth Day Celebration at GT, making it as one of the largest Earth Day events in the southeastern United States!

Rose-Hulman celebrated Earth Day by taking part in an Earth Day celebration at their neighbor school, Indiana State University. The team also collaborated with the Greater Indiana Clean Cities at Earth Day Indiana, which hosted more than 140 environmental exhibits from across Indiana.

UW Faculty Advisor Glenn Bower and team members talk to attendees at the their Earth Day event

The University of Wisconsin participated in the Rockwell Automation Earth Day Event with the local Wisconsin Clean Cities Coalition. The team handed out tire pressure gauges to attendees and even displayed their EcoCAR during a ‘Green Technology’ portion of the event.

The University of Victoria team showcased their vehicle at a local library’s green technologies event. Team members had the chance to talk to local youth about environmental sustainability and how the EcoCAR competition is helping the environment.

State Rep. Scott Conklin and State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham visit PSU EcoCAR Garage for a Ride and Drive

Penn State’s EcoCAR team celebrated Earth Day by welcoming State Representative Scott Conklin to their garage for a ride and drive. The team also took part in a campus-wide Earth Day celebration, in which they took that opportunity to publicly launch their new iPhone application, PSU EcoCAR, an education app which allows iPhone users to interact with the team while on the go!

The Virginia Tech EcoCAR team kicked off Earth Week by displaying their vehicle on the National Mall for EPA’s Earth Day. You can check out their Green Garage Blog post to learn more about their event!

Michigan Tech cleaning debris alongside their garage facilities

Other teams, like Michigan Tech, decided to get their hands dirty by picking up trash and debris in ditches alongside their garage facilities. Despite the snowy conditions for late-April, the team enjoyed cleaning up the community and allowed for some team bonding!

EcoCAR teams are constantly giving back by working on and creating the next generation of clean automobiles that reduce environmental impact. Although Earth Day is only one day a year, EcoCAR challenges the world to strive towards making every day Earth Day!

Rain or shine, Earth Day events go on. Despite the gloomy forecast, Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) drove more than four hours from Blacksburg to Washington D.C.’s National Mall to show off their EcoCAR at the EPA’s Earth Day events last weekend.

The EPA Earth Day tent housed “green” exhibits, including the Virginia Tech EcoCAR booth, as well as the 55 university teams competing for EPA’s P3 award. The P3—people, prosperity, and the planet—is a competition that provides funding for top collegiate sustainable design programs. Though Virginia Tech was not among the competitors this year, HEVT was honored to be exhibiting among future-forward ideas similar to the EcoCAR competition.

Saturday’s rain storm made for quite a mess, but there were still plenty of visitors at the HEVT booth. Visitors loved the team’s toy hybrid cars and were excited to talk about the vehicle and the competition. On Sunday, the skies cleared up and visitors were able to spend time with the VTREX and visit our table inside the EPA tent. It was exciting to talk to attendees of the EPA event as well as passers-by who were simply out to enjoy the sights of D.C.

Overall, the event was a huge success for HEVT since the team was able to reach not only EPA Earth Day supporters, but hundreds of other D.C. visitors and residents. Thank you to EPA for putting on such a great weekend!

At today’s New York International Auto Show, the Chevrolet Volt was selected as 2011’s World Green Car of the year!

The award, presented by Bridgestone, honors a vehicle that was either all-new or substantially revised to be more environmentally responsible for the year 2011. The Volt was selected as a finalist from a group of twelve new cars from across the world, and beat out the BMW 320d and Nissan Leaf for the top prize.

The Chevrolet Volt

Fuel efficiency, emissions, and power plant technology were all crucial elements in evaluating the nominated vehicles, so the awards committee employed three green experts to judge the cars’ technical aspects. The experts unanimously chose the Volt as one of the top-three vehicles in the competition.

Please join us in congratulating Chevrolet on this great achievement!

This month the OSU EcoCAR team sat down with Andy Mastrondardi, Director of University Programs at Freescale Semiconductor, Inc, an EcoCAR Platinum Sponsor. The team talked to Andy about his EcoCAR involvement from a personal perspective and from Freescale’s perspective. Watch the video below to see Andy provide some great insight into the EcoCAR competition from a sponsor’s point-of-view.

Check back next month for a special edition of OSU EcoCAR’s Sponsor Series – the team will be interviewing a representative from dSPACE, another Platinum Sponsor.

The University of Victoria EcoCAR team held its first vehicle showcase of the year at the Vancouver Central Library. The showcase gave the public a unique opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge technologies the EcoCAR team is using to build its hybrid vehicle as well as the tremendous benefits next-generation vehicles and green technology can bring to consumers and the environment.

The team rented two spaces on the inner promenade of the library for the event. The students set up a booth that included the UVic EcoCAR, monitors displaying videos and tools used for virtual testing, and posters showing the different components of the car. The team also handed out brochures and vehicle spec cards.

Approximately 5,000 people walked through the inside promenade of the library during the event, and the team was able to benefit from the foot traffic. Enthusiastic passer-bys of all ages stopped at the booth to see the car and ask questions. The two most common questions included:

–          Why should we choose hybrid technology?

–          What makes next generation hybrid technology different from standard hybrid technology?

Overall, the students received very positive feedback from their audience. The people of Vancouver were really enthusiastic about a competition that encourages the development of next generation vehicles.

In the morning, the UVic students also had the chance to visit with Paul Connors, Deputy Director and Trade Commissioner, Vancouver Regional Office, and Eric H. Barker, Senior Advisor, Clean Energies, Pacific Region. Both were excited about the EcoCAR initiative and offered the UVic students any assistance they could provide.

Today Argonne National Laboratory celebrates the 65th anniversary of its founding. On April 19, 1946, the University of Chicago accepted a letter contract to operate a lab intended to address America’s most important scientific and societal needs.

Today, Argonne continues to lead the world in providing scientific and engineering solutions to the grand challenges of our time: plentiful and safe energy, a healthy environment, economic competitiveness, and a secure nation.

Argonne is a crucial partner for the EcoCAR competition, and EcoCAR in turn is helping Argonne work to meet America’s energy and environmental challenges. Please join us in wishing Argonne National Laboratory a happy birthday!

Photo: Peter Lindberg, Flickr

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