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In early October, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow held an information session on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, MI. In Washington D.C., Senator Stabenow sits on the energy committee, which allocates funds to the Department of Energy, helping to make the EcoCAR Challenge possible.

After listening to Senator Stabenow speak about her views on energy-related issues during the information session, the Michigan Tech EcoCAR team got the opportunity to meet with her and snap a couple of photos.  The team made sure Senator Stabenow didn’t leave campus empty handed; they presented her with an embroidered EcoCAR polo shirt to express their gratitude for her eventful visit.

The MTU EcoCAR team is excited to host more government officials in the future, so stay tuned to see who will be on campus next!

MTU Team Leader, Jason Socha and Outreach Coordinator, Jamie Kleinendorst posing with Senator Stabenow

For the next several weeks, the Green Garage Blog will feature a Team Spotlight Video each Thursday.

Watch below to catch a glimpse of the first Team Spotlight Video featuring interviews with Michigan Tech team members talking about reasons to join the EcoCAR Challenge, a description of how the team’s vehicle runs and some cool shots of the students in action!

Billy Bland, mechanical team, Chris Lucier, team leader, Chris Twarog, GM mentor, and Jake Dunda, controls team, all wonder where the “hybrid do-hickey thing goes”

For this week’s Mentor Monday post, we’re featuring Chris Twarog, a General Motors (GM) controls integration engineer based out of the company’s Milford, Michigan proving grounds. For many years, GM has been a major sponsor for Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) alongside the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  

Chris started mentoring during the Challenge X competition when a colleague asked him to temporarily fill in as a mentor for Penn State University. 

“I had a great experience working with the Penn State team and I wanted to stay involved in future competitions. GM placed me as a Michigan Tech mentor for Challenge X in the fall of 2007, and I’ve stayed with the team for EcoCAR,” said Chris.  “My role is to keep the students on track to meet their goals and deadlines.  I help them with project management and show them the way we track project goals, timing and metrics at GM.  They then can apply this information to their project deadlines and carry the skills with them in their future careers.”

“I also help the students integrate GM controllers and components into their vehicle.  As a controls integration engineer, I am really focused on vehicle integration, rather than integration at a component or sub-system level, and so are the EcoCAR students.  It’s a great technical fit.” 

Right now, the Michigan Tech team is hard at work installing and making their hybrid system work with the rest of the vehicle.

Prior to his current position, Chris was in the Concept and Vehicle Integration Group at GM working on concept cars that are shown at auto shows.  “I worked on the electrical system for the Chevy Volt and Camaro concepts,” said Chris.  “It was fun to engineer new cars that are well received and have the latest advanced technologies.”

Outside of GM and EcoCAR, Chris plays hockey and co-ed softball, enjoys dirt biking, and spending time with friends.  He also tinkers on cars in his own garage and is doing his best to help plan for his upcoming wedding in July.

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