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In the ongoing effort to make America more economically competitive, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced funding for Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Centers of Excellence. Energy Secretary Steven Chu‘s program sets aside up to $5 million to fund these GATE Centers, which educate students in critical automotive technology.

Graduate-level, interdisciplinary subjects addressed in GATE curriculum include:

  • Advanced Combustion Engines
  • Lightweight Materials
  • Advanced Energy Storage
  • Advanced Hybrid Propulsion and Control Systems

Like EcoCAR, the GATE Centers represent the DOE’s focus on clean vehicles and its interest in meeting ambitious goals, including President Obama’s challenge to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

To learn more, visit the GATE Center webpage!

While the EcoCAR teams were in Yuma for the Year Two Finals, MotorWeek was on hand filming in the pits during the safety and technical inspections and interviewing representatives from the Department of Energy, General Motors and Argonne National Laboratory to get a real feel for what the competition is all about.

The finished piece aired last week and came out great. Check it out below!

Clean Cities is a government-industry partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program that strives to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. As an EcoCAR Gold Sponsor, Clean Cities has played a vital role in developing the outreach aspect of the competition by funding the EcoCAR Outreach Coordinator fellowships. With its contributions, the teams have significantly strengthened their outreach, PR and marketing capabilities.

To further strength the EcoCAR teams’ outreach efforts, Clean Cities is pleased to announce the EcoCAR Clean Cities Collaboration Award! Participating EcoCAR teams will submit an essay annually that highlights how they were able to connect with a local Clean Cities Coalition and successfully interact with the Coalition to execute outreach initiatives that support the outreach goals for the competition and for Clean Cities.

All teams are encouraged to apply by April 30 and the winners will receive recognition and cash prizes to support their school’s EcoCAR program. Check back in on May 25 for a list of the award winners!

Cheri Olsen, right, preparing for the EcoCAR Year 1 Finals in Toronto

Cheri-Ann Olsen has been involved in the Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) for more than ten years. She first participated in the program as a student on the University of Alberta’s Ethanol Vehicle Challenge team in 2000 and FutureTruck team in 2002. After graduation, Cheri took a job at Natural Resources Canada, an AVTC sponsor since the program’s inception in 1987, where she has served as a competition organizer and Executive Steering Committee Member. Over the years, Cheri has had the opportunity to see the benefits of AVTC competitions from both sides of the spectrum – as a student and as an organizer.

“As a student, I had the unique opportunity to apply the skills I learned in school, and gain new experiences from the business and outreach aspects of the program,” said Cheri. “As an organizer, it’s exciting to watch the teams learn, develop and refine their technologies during the competitions.”

One of Cheri’s fondest memories was witnessing the University of Waterloo Challenge X team create a fully operational fuel cell vehicle that competed in the dynamic events during the final year of the competition. This major milestone marked the first time in AVTC history that a team was able to participate using a hydrogen fuel cell for vehicle propulsion.

Cheri has been a core organizer for both the Challenge X and EcoCAR competition series, serving as  a member of the Technical Sub Committee, the Co-Event Captain for the Competition Scoring, and a member of the Executive Steering Committee. These roles have given Cheri a close and intimate look at the teams’ capabilities and their vehicle development process.

“As a whole, advanced vehicle technology has come a long way in the last 30 years,” said Cheri. “It’s really nice to see all the hard work between governments, academia and industry come to fruition through competitions such as Challenge X and EcoCAR. It’s exciting to know that the future of advanced vehicle technology in North America is in such capable hands.”

With the EcoCAR Challenge well underway, both Cheri and Natural Resources Canada look forward to seeing where the next installment of AVTCs will take the ever evolving automotive industry.

To celebrate National Engineers Week, President Obama sent a greeting to the nation’s engineers saying that “never has it been more important for America’s youth to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” We couldn’t agree more!

To help the youth learn about career opportunities in science and engineering,  the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has invited Chicago-area girls in sixth through eighth grade to participate in the annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

Teen girls learning what it's like to be an engineer at Argonne National Laboratory in 2009

“This event is a great opportunity to inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Erika Benda, chairperson of the event and an Argonne mechanical engineer. “The event is designed to spark their curiosity and encourage girls to pursue their interests in science and engineering.”

The event is a fun and educational way to introduce girls to engineering. The students will spend the day with a mentor, tour the laboratory, participate in hands-on activities and attend interactive presentations about engineering careers. They will also have lunch with some of Argonne’s leading experts and have the opportunity to ask questions about their work, education and how they decided to enter their chosen fields.

How are you celebrating National Engineers Week?

For more than 21 years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has sponsored more than 45 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) that have engaged more than 15,000 students from 85 different colleges and universities. While some of the technical goals and execution have changed over the years, the competitions have had a common theme – to accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies of interest to the DOE and the automotive industry, to help prepare the market to accept advanced vehicle technologies, and to seed the automotive industry with a new generation of engineering graduates that have hands-on, real-world experience that better prepares them for the energy and transportation-related challenges of the 21st century.

General Motors has been a major sponsor for many of these competitions alongside the DOE and has experienced firsthand the tremendous value that competition-trained engineers can bring to the professional world. In recent years, GM has hired more than 50 graduates from these competitions and the talent and experience they have brought to the company has been extremely beneficial throughout the organization. 

Watch this video to see the story of just a few of the talented engineers who are AVTC alumni now working for General Motors: Shannon Reeves, Daniel Mehr, Mike Arnett and Cindy Svestka.

This video describes A123Systems’ technology and its participation as a sponsor in the EcoCAR Challenge.


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This morning, at the Museum of Science in Boston, representative from The General Motors Company, Department of Energy, The MathWorks and A123Systems addressed a crowd of students and journalists, officially kicking off year two of the EcoCAR competition.

Today’s presenters included Connie Bezanson from DOE, Paul Smith from The MathWorks, Rob Mosher from A123Systems and Kent Helfrich from General Motors.

Here are some photos from the event:

The Teams Gather After Press Conference

The Teams Gather After Press Conference

Kent Helfrich from General Motors

Kent Helfrich from General Motors

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This video is currently the “Video of the Month” on the website for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Vehicle Technologies Program. The video, courtesy of MotorWeek, spotlights the folks from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory to learn what it takes to make clean power sources viable.

Click here to learn more about the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

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On the eve of announcing the final winners (see post below) we captured the EcoCAR Challenge participants at their zaniest. Keep your eyes open for the answers to “You know you’re an engineer when…” and the “First thing I ever tore apart…” Also, don’t miss the gorgeous girls of EcoCAR, the “chick magnet” and shirtless man. Yes, this is a serious contest, but clearly this next generation of talented engineers likes to have fun inside their green garages!


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September 2020