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The Mississippi State University EcoCAR team has been working diligently over the past few months to reduce the overall mass of their vehicle.  The mechanical/powertrain group has been redesigning and building new aluminum motor and engine mounts to replace the older steel mounts.  Just before the holidays, the team dropped the entire powertrain to make the improvements.  While the powertrain was out of the vehicle for a few days, the team also made some upgrades to the electrical wiring and mounted a new sway bar.

In addition to the aluminum mounts, MSU is also working on other options for lightweighting the vehicle.  The team is currently partnering with aircraft manufacturer, Aurora Flight Sciences, to build carbon fiber components for their EcoCAR.  MSU team members continue to research additional options that will decrease the overall mass of the vehicle, thus improving the vehicle’s braking, acceleration, and fuel economy.

Machining a new motor mount on the end mill

Is your team focusing on lightweighting your vehicle? Post your stories and document your progress in the comment box below, we’d love to hear from you!

With the first semester of the third and final year of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge under their belt, Mississippi State University’s EcoCAR controls team has been hard at work applying what they learned from the Winter Workshop at The Mathworks headquarters in Boston, MA, to their vehicle control systems.  Not only has the controls team updated their Hardware-in-the-Loop simulator to match their championship competition vehicle, but will soon begin the optimization process using super-computers.

Super-computing allows for iterative simulations to deterimine how systems and components will behave under varioius conditions (image from http://www.HPC.msstate.edu)

MSU is part of the High Performance Computing Collaboratory.  As such, the MSU EcoCAR team is excited to leverage these resources to produce a controller strategy that is optimized for energy management.  Thanks to the support of dSPACE and The Mathworks, the MSU controls team will be optimizing using the latest versions of MATLAB® & Simulink®, which will help keep MSU on top of the competition.

“We are very fortunate to have access to some incredible resources here at Mississippi State University, and as a competition team, we are very excited to use super-computing to push the boundaries of our control systems,” said team leader Matt Doude. “We like having a competitive edge, and we like that edge to be sharp.”

As the team moves forward in the competition, they will also be utilizing other cutting-edge technologies, including a four-wheel chassis dynamometer and 3D virtual environment simulations.

The Mississippi State University EcoCAR team had an exciting summer as they coordinated and attended several events throughout the state to spread the word about the EcoCAR competition and MSU’s work. Keeping the momentum from Year Two, the student engineers also made several improvements on the vehicle and are proud to have driven more than 500 miles since competition.

As eager students recently arrived on campus, the team held an interest meeting to give new students the opportunity to get involved and become a part of the team. The meeting took place the second week of classes and more than 100 interested students attended to learn more about the EcoCAR competition and the immense range of opportunities it offers.

Over 100 students attended the EcoCAR Interest Meeting!

The team is thrilled by the response, and looks forward to adding new team members and accomplishing great things in Year Three!

The Mississippi State team was thrilled to take home top honors at EcoCAR’s Year Two Finals, and it appears they’re not the only ones feeling proud. The attention on MSU and their fellow top finishers, Penn State and Virginia Tech, has been non-stop. This week, they reached an impressive milestone: 100 articles written about their win in one month. Local and university media support was boosted by recognition from national publications including The NewYork TimesWired and CNET’s Car Tech Blog.

To see the entire list of 100 articles, check out MSU’s blog post, “Four Weeks, 100 Media Articles.” Congratulations!

MSU recently had the pleasure of hosting Mississippi Senator Alan Nunnelee on its campus.  The senator lead a candid discussion with political science and business students, as well as members of the EcoCAR team. Nunnelee spoke about the benefits of hybrids, MSU’s participation in the EcoCAR program, and political attitudes toward hybrid adoption.

Regarding political attitudes toward hybrids, the senator talked about the benefits of hybrids in relation to the economy and environment.  He also touched on some of the ramifications for the state’s budget.  A current example of those ramifications is the state tax on every gas purchase that goes to the building and repair of roads in the state; if hybrids became widely adopted in the area, cars would still wear on the roads, but purchase significantly less gas.  This would compel the state government to find new ways to make up for the shortage of gas revenues.

It was inspiring to hear the influential viewpoint of Senator Nunnelee and his enthusiasm about the EcoCAR program!

Jerry Checking Out MSU's VUE

Jerry Checking Out MSU's VUE

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, visited the MSU EcoCar team Wednesday, September 30. Jerry came to MSU’s campus for the College of Business’s 3rd Annual Leadership Summit. The lecture series concluded with a “Peace, Love, and Leadership” Closing Extravaganza. Here, more than 2,000 students gathered for free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, festival booths and a speech by Mr. Greenfield on social responsibility. We feel that Ben and Jerry’s commitment to fair trade, going green and sustainability tie closely with some of EcoCar’s many messages. In addition to our station, the Extravaganza included booths from organizations such as the Community Service and Sustainability Committee, MSU Energy Management, MSUEco and the Starkville Community Market. The new MSU EcoCar was a big hit. Several students, faculty and community members stopped by to ask questions about the car; the MSU Shuttle drivers were especially fascinated by the more technical details of the mechanics. Jerry himself came to check out the booth before his presentation, asking detailed questions about the EcoCar project and sharing our enthusiasm for efforts towards sustainability.

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