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This summer, more than 25 interns are spreading awareness of alternatives fuels and clean energy throughout the nation. Clean Cities, an EcoCAR Gold Sponsor, launched the Clean Cities Summer Internship program to assist local coalitions in the planning and implementation of events, research of alternative fuel usage, database analysis, and social media and media relations tasks.

Marcy Rood Werpy, Principal Transportation Environmental Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory and a former manager of Clean Cities, believes coalitions need new and creative ways to reach fleet managers and general consumers about these important issues.

“With the nation focused on a clean energy revolution, Clean Cities is at a pinnacle with significant opportunities to accelerate the market towards electric drive technologies, biofuels, natural gas and propane vehicles,” she said. “Local coalitions need resources or people power to get projects started, find additional fleet customers, and educate consumers about new vehicle technologies. Interns provide smart, energetic resources to coalitions needing to move ahead quickly.”

Clean Cities looked to Argonne National Laboratory to help oversee and execute the summer internship program. Dana Bubonovich, former Outreach Coordinator for Penn State, was brought on board to help oversee internship responsibilities for all 25 coalitions and act as a liaison between Argonne, the interns, and the coalition coordinators.

“Argonne is here to help the coalitions succeed in spreading awareness of clean energy,” said Bubonovich. “The interns are very bright and have already helped the coalitions tremendously. The coalitions are really impressed with what the interns can achieve.”

Another EcoCAR student is interning at the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition (GLICCC) this summer.

EcoCAR team leader for the Embry-Riddle EcoEagles, Vincent Sabatini, accepted an internship with the GLICCC to assist in their mission of expanding the use of alternatives fuels, improving air quality, facilitating energy independence, and encouraging economic growth. The GLICC was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy in October 1996, and is currently managing and funding CNG fleets and fueling stations through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Vince Sabatini talks to students about alternative fuels and clean energy

Vincent played a significant role in Embry-Riddle’s outreach activities throughout the last two years of EcoCAR. He was often the team’s spokesperson at offsite events and helped give tours of the lab for visitors. His dedication to his EcoCAR team and outreach activities impressed the coalition’s coordinator and landed him the internship with the GLICCC.

Vincent is currently working on updating the contact information for coalition stakeholders, public officials, media contacts, and fleet managers, as well as updating the coalition’s website. He is also developing a press packet for events such as station groundbreakings or grand openings, as well as the annual Advancing The Choice (ATC) Conference, which will be held on October 22, 2010.

“I really enjoy working with Clean Cities,” said Vincent. “It’s nice because I can take the outreach skills I learned at Embry-Riddle, mix it with my engineering background, and apply it to my internship. The internship really taught me to expand my horizons and I’ve become more well-rounded because of it.”

During Speedweeks 2010 at the Daytona International Speedway, the Embry-Riddle EcoCAR team worked with its local sponsor, the International Speedway Corporation, to set up a trade show display inside the Daytona 500 Experience. At Speedweeks 2010, the EcoEagles were able to discuss the EcoCAR competition and Embry-Riddle’s participation with thousands of race fans. Embry-Riddle’s contact at the International Speedway Corporation, Cliff Franz, arranged for the team to showcase its work right outside the entrance of the Daytona 500 Experience.

EcoEagles’ co-team leader, Ryle Maxson, talking to race fans

The team set up its display while two Gatorade Duels at Daytona were running. In between races, many fans stopped by the Daytona 500 Experience to talk to the EcoEagles. The students spoke to fans from more than 15 different countries and all were genuinely interested and impressed with the EcoCAR project and its goals. 

The Embry-Riddle EcoCAR team was included in all the SpeedWeeks 2010 events and the team gained a lot of exposure. During the 2010 Daytona 500 induction ceremony, the winning car was parked inside the Daytona 500 Experience to commemorate the victory – right next to the EcoEagles’ trade show display! 

By the end of the event, the EcoEagles had talked to thousands of fans, handed out hundreds of team and competition informational brochures, and had a lot of fun! The team can’t wait until the next big event rolls into Daytona, so they can do it again.

A view of the EcoEagles’ display in the Daytona 500 Experience

In an event sponsored by Embry-Riddle’s Office of Diversity, more than 80 Girl Scouts, teachers, parents, and scout leaders came to the Embry-Riddle campus for a day of fun and learning. Six different troops from across Northeast Florida (St. Augustine, Sanford, Jacksonville) were in attendance. In the morning, the girls participated in hands-on activities that inspired the future engineers. They built balsa wood airplane models, water rockets, and even had a competition to see which troop could build the strongest model bridge. After the activities and lunch, the girls were brought into the EcoEagles’ garage to see what the team was working on in the EcoCAR competition. 

The girls took a tour around the garage and their eyes lit up as they took in all of the tools, computers, and the EcoCAR. The Embry-Riddle team explained the purpose of the EcoCAR program and the importance of reducing emissions for the future. The girls were then asked to fill out a survey about their knowledge of green vehicle technologies and the companies currently developing them. 

The Girl Scouts event was a great success because the team was able to spread the word about EcoCAR and its importance. The team also got the girls excited about engineering, so maybe one day they will participate in an Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition too!

Girl Scouts and EcoEagles’ team leader, Vince Sabatini, in the Embry-Riddle garage

In early March, the Embry-Riddle EcoEagles team visited Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to help with GM’s “From the Raceway to the Driveway” promotion. The promotion was a combined effort from GM, Corvette Racing, and the American Le Mans Series to showcase the importance of green technology at home and on the raceway.  The event was held in Orlando, Florida in front of the Atlanta Braves Spring Training stadium.

Embry-Riddle's EcoCAR vehicle in front of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports

On site, the new “Corvette Interactive Transporter” was on display acting as a mobile marketing display.  A ZR1 racing Corvette, a stock Corvette, and a stock Camaro were housed inside the transporter and brought at the event. Inside the transporter, a mobile museum of Corvette racing was available for fans to walk through and enjoy.

The promotion location was selected because the Atlanta Braves had a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays that day, and many fans and media were sure to be in attendance.  To greet the fans, and answer questions from the media, Corvette Racing driver, Johnny O’Connell, Corvette Racing program manager, Doug Fehan, and other Sebring and American Le Mans Series executives were in attendance.  It was a great experience for the EcoEagle engineers to meet Corvette and Le Mans engineers and ask them questions.  Johnny O’Connell even signed the team’s vehicle headrest and wished them luck in the competition.  The Embry-Riddle EcoCAR was displayed alongside the other vehicles at the event and the team answered questions from fans and the media about the EcoEagles, and the EcoCAR competition.

Johnny O’Connell signed the team’s headrest

Joining forces with the American Le Mans Series, the “Global Leader in Green Racing,” GM, and Corvette Racing, gave the Embry-Riddle team an opportunity to talk to attendees about the future of green cars, the importance of the continued development of green technology, and what GM, American Le Mans, Corvette Racing, and the EcoCAR competition are doing to help.

EcoEagles’ team leader, Vince Sabatini, presented at the event following Johnny O’Connell and Doug Fehan

The EcoCAR Winter Workshop is in full swing in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. The first two days were consumed with the teams’ Hardware-In-The-Loop (HIL) and Outreach presentations at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and demos at Daytona International Speedway.

Teams brought their HIL’s to the workshop to show how they’ve improved since we last saw them at Year One finals, and how they plan to continue fault testing their vehicles in Year Two. The level of the students’ controls knowledge impressed top industry experts and judges from dSPACE, National Instruments, General Motors, and Argonne National Lab. Mississippi State’s Tommy Frazier said, “We gained valuable experience presenting our HIL to top industry experts. Their feedback will allow us to create a great running vehicle for finals in May.”

While the HIL presentations were going on, the teams’ outreach coordinators presented what they’ve been up to the past few months. They’ve been busy! “We were excited to share the things we’ve been working on over the past few months and through the end of the year,” said Matt Johnson, ERAU Outreach Coordinator. Teams presented on their new Web sites, social media networking, and Year Two outreach activities. The judges were very impressed with the coordinators, and can’t wait to see what they do to close out the year.

The ERAU team posing in front of the Daytona International Speedway

Make sure to check out all the teams’ Facebook and Twitter pages to see how they’re gearing up for the competition finals in May!

Now that winter is upon us, are you dreaming of fun, sun and the beach?  For the students participating in the EcoCAR competition, their dreams most likely include HILs, emissions and vehicle inspections. The teams have been hard at work preparing for the EcoCAR 2010 Winter Workshop that kicks off today in Daytona Beach, Florida, but with any luck, the students will be able to catch some sun while sharpening their green engineering skills!

The workshop is a three day event hosted by the Daytona International Speedway and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Through Saturday, the student teams will participate in the following activities:

  • Team presentations judged by an expert panel of industry and government sponsors
  • Technical sessions focused on preparing for the competition finals in May, 2010 
  • An emissions and AVL DRIVE demonstration presented by General Motors

An EcoCAR outreach event will also be held at the Speedway with approximately 1,000 regional Boy Scout packs from Florida and Georgia. EcoCAR will give a “Tech Talk” to the scouts about the advanced technologies the teams have selected for their vehicles. 

For more information about the Boy Scout event and the Winter Workshop, check back in this week!

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We have exciting news to share from Embry-Riddle! Last week, the university opened the doors to its new “green garage” where the EcoEagles will use aerospace techniques to build their EcoCAR.

The garage is top-of-the-line. It includes a rotary vehicle lift, dedicated high-voltage room, and an integrated hardware-in-the-loop laboratory donated by National Instruments.  Not only will be the students be designing a vehicle in the garage that is fuel efficient and evironmentally friendly, the lab itself is actually designed to reduce environmental impact – the floor covering is made from recycled tires! 

Embry-Riddle President John Johnson and Volusia County (Fla.) council members Joie Alexander and Patricia Northey joined the entire EcoCAR team and supporting faculty members to cut the ribbon on December 4, officially marking the grand opening of the new engineering laboratory. 

Joie Alexander, John Johnson, and Patricia Northey cutting the ribbon!

The “green garage” was made possible by the generous support of EcoCar Challenge sponsors General Motors, the Department of Energy, and the Government of Canada, in addition to Embry-Riddle team sponsors, International Speedway Corp., US Didactic, and SolarFit.

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The Embry-Riddle EcoCAR team just got back from the 28th Annual Digital Avionics Systems Conference, and it was a blast. The team made valuable connections and educated industry leaders about the EcoCAR Challenge and the EcoEagles’ role in the competition.

Many of you might ask, “What do avionics and aerospace technologies have to do with cars?” At Embry-Riddle, students apply techniques developed for aerospace engineering in all of their projects. For instance, the carbon fiber composites that are used to minimize weight and fuel consumption in a Boeing 787 can be used for the same purpose in the body paneling of the team’s EcoCAR.

The DASC conference gave the EcoEagles an opportunity to show their control system to engineers with a lifetime of experience working on aircraft controls. It also provided an opportunity to discuss the merits of digital vs. analog controls and other issues like instrumentation, capacitors and batteries.

Vince Sabatini, the Embry-Riddle team leader, is taking his love for EcoCAR and the program’s sponsors to the next level – he got The MathWorks logo, which is also the symbol for The MathWorks MATLAB software, tattooed to his chest!

Vince explains why the tattoo is important to him:

“I have always been a fan of MATLAB, and I like the interesting design of the logo, the 3D Mesh, so I decided to get the logo on my chest, so MATLAB is always close to my heart.”

Very cool! Check out his new ink:

Vince Sabatini's MATLAB tattoo

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The Shiny New Snap-on Toolkit

The Shiny New Snap-on Toolkit

We’ve had a blast at this year’s kickoff event. The MathWorks and ANL have done a great job in getting all the teams together and pumped up for Year Two. Just when we were thinking things couldn’t get any better we got the news: our toolkit had arrived. Snap-on has generously sponsored the Embry-Riddle EcoEagles by providing a toolkit custom designed for the EcoCAR project. Complete with our team logo, the top-of-the-line kit will make working on the car that much easier. The nonconductive ratchet set in particular will be awesome when installing the batteries. While some of us weren’t there to see the kit when it came in, now that we’re back in Daytona Beach we plan to put it to good use.

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