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The President of the United States visited Penn State last month and spoke to a crowd of 3,000 people on the topic of innovation in energy-efficient engineering. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was also in attendance. In addition to his 20-minute speech, President Obama toured an Architectural Engineering Structures Laboratory with Secretary Chu.

Twenty-five Penn State EcoCAR team members, including engineers, volunteers, faculty advisors and outreach members, attended the President’s speech, and the Penn State Outreach Coordinator, Allison Lilly, had the privilege of shaking his hand!

The Team at President Obama's speech

The President’s speech focused on inspiring Penn State students to meet their potential. He emphasized the need for collegiate competition, saying, “We’re going to have to out-innovate and out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

The Penn State EcoCAR team is very familiar with competition and innovation, so President Obama’s speech really resonated. The President focused on clean energy, “because right now, some of the most promising innovation is happening in the area of clean energy technology — technology that is creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and — something that every young person here cares about — making sure our planet is a healthier place to live that we can pass on to future generations.”

Obama called upon college students to try harder, work harder, and research harder – not for the grades, but for the good of our country’s future. “We need you to seek breakthroughs and new technologies that we can’t even imagine yet,” he said.  “And especially the young people who are here, we need you to act with a sense of urgency — to study and work and create as if the fate of the country depends on you – because it does.”

President Obama ended the speech with a message of hope, saying that he believes we will be able to once again set ourselves apart from the rest of the world by harnessing the energy of Penn State students and students across the nation.

The EcoCAR team left the room a little more excited to get back to work, to face their next challenge, and to set themselves apart in this outstanding engineering competition.

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!

An innovative new project called the Climate Generation Program is bringing even more hope for a greener future for our youth. The competition will ultimately target high school students in more than 60 countries but initially be piloted in California and Minnesota this year.

Not only does the Climate Generation Program seek to educate our country’s students on climate change, it presents them with the test of connecting their environmental school work to their everyday lives. By aspiring to connect all subjects of a high school education with real-life application, the competition aims to inspire students to make a difference in our earth’s future environment and climate.

“We believe the initiative will propel students to become tomorrow’s leaders on climate change, green technology, and any number of other environmental issues,” said Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency Linda Adams.

The British Council has paired with the California Air Resources Board, an EcoCAR competition sponsor, to make this project possible. “We feel that the climate action projects will complement California’s new Education and the Environment Initiative standards-based curriculum.  We are looking forward to continuing to develop new ‘Climate Champions’ who can represent the youth voice on global climate issues at the local, regional, national and international levels,” West Coast Manager for the British Council, Meghan Steed said.

It’s both interesting and inspiring to see the many ways that organizations and groups of people are becoming educated on the climate issues throughout the world, while progressively fighting for a better, greener future. Good luck to all of the participating students in California and Minnesota!

For more information on the Climate Generation Program, please visit

While the Georgia Tech EcoCAR engineers were working away in the garage, the team’s outreach students were braving the heat at the Georgia Tech 2010 Auto Show. At the event, the Georgia Tech team set up a booth next to General Motors (GM) and educated attendees about their participation in the EcoCAR competition. They explained the advancements being made to their GM-donated vehicle and what they are doing to promote green technology within the automotive industry.

The Georgia Tech team is excited to bring their EcoCAR to the auto show next year!

EcoCAR display at the Georgia Tech 2010 Auto Show

UWAFT team members talking about hybrid technology with local shoppers

The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) collaborated with Canadian Tire to engage with its local community on the technological advances happening in its garage. Although the weather was muggy, it didn’t affect the event – the team benefited from the high traffic and attention during a busy shopping weekend!

The majority of the public understood that hybrid technology is playing an increasingly important role in the auto industry. As a result, many people were interested in learning about the work being done by UWAFT and to discuss the merits and problems of various alternative fuels. In addition to educating people in the community, the team also had the opportunity to speak with Waterloo business owners and plant an early seed of interest with future students of UW.

The UWAFT team is passionate about developing new green technology and was delighted to have the opportunity to host the event at Canadian Tire.

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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Members from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology EcoCAR team recently submitted this video blog to Inside the Green Garage. Mike Maduro, Helen Qin and Samantha Hazell talk about post-graduate plans and share a funny story about how they tricked new members of the team into thinking VUE stood for a technical term.

For more information about the UOIT team, check out the team site at

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Carl Leung, UWAFT team member, talks with 2009 Canadian International Auto Show attendees

Calvin Leung, UWAFT team member, talks with 2009 Canadian International Auto Show attendees

The National Hydrogen Association (NHA) recently concluded that hydrogen-based vehicle technology is an economic and environmentally-friendly long term solution to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in its report titled, Energy Evolution: An Analysis of Alternative Vehicles and Fuels to 2100. The report discusses the importance of continual research and development of hydrogen technology for a zero-emission future*. The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) is dedicated to the realization of such a future by developing a fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

UWAFT also recognizes the importance of educating the public on green technology with the hope that they make informed and educated decision. One particular highlight of our outreach efforts is our participation in 2009 Canadian International Auto Show, which attracted over 250,000 attendees.
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EcoEagles members Vincent Sabatini and Kamau Kelly talk to event attendees

EcoEagles members Vincent Sabatini and Kamau Kelly talk to event attendees

On April 19, 2009, students from the Embry-Riddle EcoCAR team, the EcoEagles, made an impressive display at the Daytona Kennel Club’s 2009 Earth Day event.

The event featured many local vendors of “green” technology for home and businesses, including solar panels, low-electricity LED lighting and non-toxic chemicals for industrial cleaning. Local car dealerships displayed hybrid vehicles and answered questions about vehicle performance and environmental impact.

The EcoEagles team was a headline presenter at the event, which focused heavily on environmental education for the greater Daytona Beach community. Team members were on hand to talk about environmental issues, hybrid vehicle technology, ways for everybody to be more “green” and, of course, about what the team is doing, both for the competition and in the community in general.
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