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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!

If you weren’t able to attend SAE’s 2011 World Congress this week, EcoCAR 2 made quite a splash. Yesterday we announced that the GM-donated vehicle for EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future will be a Chevrolet Malibu, and today DOE named the sixteen teams selected to participate in the competition.

Check out the video recap below to see what happened!

President Obama recently announced the creation of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, a public-private initiative dedicated to helping large companies use greener vehicles. Five private sector leaders, AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS, and Verizon, will team up with the Department of Energy to convert a significant portion of their service fleets to electric or alternative fuel-vehicles.

These charter members own five of the top ten largest fleets in the country, operating more than 250,000 vehicles between them. Making their service vehicles cleaner will have a massive impact on America’s fuel consumption and environmental footprint, as well as saving the companies money in the long run.

EcoCAR congratulates the Obama administration and the five charter members on this initiative, and we hope the technologies EcoCAR teams are developing today will be in some of the Clean Fleet vehicles of the future!

Take a look at this video to learn more about the National Clean Fleets Partnership:

With the EcoCAR Final Competition just a few short months away, there is no shortage of work to be done. While the engineers were busy making final preparations for emissions testing at the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, the Penn State outreach team has its own goals to accomplish.

Under the leadership of Penn State’s outreach coordinator, Allison Lilly, outreach team members are constantly brainstorming, planning and implementing events to promote advanced vehicle technologies. Each week there are events on campus, at local schools and in the community that present the opportunity to talk with people ranging from young children to state and federal officials.

Members have also heavily utilized social media and the team website as tools for two-way communication with community leaders and the general public. In addition to that feedback, the outreach team performed market research, which provides invaluable insights into consumers’ views of the automotive industry “going green.”

The Penn State outreach team will push themselves to finish strong during the remaining weeks of the competition. Even though there’s a shortage of time, there’s no shortage of opportunities—at least not for the dedicated members of Penn State EcoCAR.

Check out the video below to see local middle schoolers enjoying a visit from the team!

During EcoCAR’s Spring Workshop, TV quiz show Jeopardy! featured an entire category dedicated to Argonne National Laboratory.

The March 10 episode highlighted Argonne as a DOE site that is “helping to find new green ways to power America,” and challenged contestants on such subjects as battery innovation, solar power, and nuclear research.

Check out the video below to see the entire category play out!

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!

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is a major supporter of educational competitions like EcoCAR, and most recently hosted the Chicago Regional Middle School Science Bowl.

This fast-paced, Jeopardy-style team competition featured 11 teams from the Chicagoland area competing to answer multiple-choice or short-answer questions relating to science and math facts or concepts.

Daniel Wright Middle School from Lincolnshire won first place and is going to the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. Jerling Junior High from Orland Park won second place while Roosevelt Middle School from River Forest won third place.

In all, 70 coaches and team members attended the event along with 26 Argonne National Laboratory and DOE volunteers.

Congratulations to the winning teams and we wish Daniel Wright Middle School the best of luck in the National Science Bowl!

Regional Winners from Daniel Wright Middle School

Following President Barack Obama’s vow to prioritize energy innovation and infrastructure in yesterday’s State of the Union address, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu held an online town hall meeting during which he further explained the administration’s stance on clean energy.

“Today we are once again seeing the benefits for the American people that come with federal investments in science and innovation,” Secretary Chu said. “With this new agreement, battery technologies developed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are making their way into the market. By supporting American innovation, commercialization and manufacturing, this partnership is helping to boost U.S. competitiveness and create the jobs of the future.”

Secretary Chu added that continuing business as usual will have a devastating effect on the entire world and echoed President Obama’s emphasis on clean energy efforts. With the President proposing to spend more than $8 billion on the field, Chu said that the nation’s overall prosperity depends on the clean energy race.  So, what does this mean for you and for EcoCAR?

For one thing, it means more jobs. One of the administration’s goals is to have 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015 and these vehicles aren’t going to design, engineer and manufacture themselves! To turn this ambitious goal into a reality, the auto industry will be looking to the next generation of engineers, especially those with AVTC experience like EcoCAR alumni! Just imagine – within a matter of years, team members currently competing in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge could be steering the auto industry into an era of not only clean energy vehicles, but ones that are highly functional with broad consumer appeal.

More information about Secretary Chu’s statements can be found here or you can view the replay video embedded below.


Today’s town hall was the first in the year-long “Energy Matters” series in which DOE experts will address issues raised by the public. You can ask energy-related questions via email, Facebook and Twitter and have them answered live online. Stay tuned for the next one!

Following this week’s State of the Union address, U.S. Secretary Energy Steven Chu will host an online town hall to discuss President Obama’s clean energy agenda tomorrow, Wednesday, January 26th at 12:45pm ET.

Join the online town hall that is hosted on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website by visiting energy.gov/livechat. Devoted to designing, building, developing and enhancing environmentally responsible autos, the EcoCAR community should capitalize on this valuable opportunity to hear directly about the clean energy agenda, straight from the source, and ask questions about how the agenda will affect AVTCs like EcoCAR and let’s not forget the impact on your future livelihoods!

If you have questions for the Secretary ahead of tomorrow’s event, please email them to newmedia@hq.doe.gov, post them on DOE’s Facebook page, or tweet @energy with the hashtag #chu.

You will also have the chance to ask additional questions during the live event. Talk it over with your EcoCAR team, what questions are you most eager to hear Secretary Chu answer?

Don’t miss Secretary Chu as he answers your questions LIVE online at energy.gov/livechat on Wednesday (tomorrow!) at 12:45pm ET.

Yesterday in a speech at the National Press Club, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu compared the 1957 Sputnik “Space Race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the current challenges the U.S. is facing as countries like China rapidly innovate in the area of energy technology.

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Secretary Chu posed a central question that should resonate with EcoCAR teams, sponsors and enthusiasts – Will we maintain America’s innovation leadership or will we fall behind? During the speech, he stated that “America still has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution and secure our future prosperity, but time is running out. Federal support of scientific R&D is critical to our economic competitiveness.”

How does Secretary Chu propose we secure an innovation leadership role for the United States? First, increase the support of energy R&D. Second, formulate sensible, long-range energy policies that have bipartisan support.

Innovations in energy technology, like those that come from competitions like EcoCAR, can generate significant and quantifiable public benefits, which are not presently recognized or rewarded by the free market. For the U.S. to remain competitive in the world of innovation, federal support of scientific R&D is imperative.

Watch Secretary Chu’s speech here.

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