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The University of Waterloo Engineering Department recently held a day of exploration for local elementary students and their parents. The goal was to educate the community on the amazing projects being undertaken at the university. The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) was front and center for the event, holding interactive outreach presentations that displayed their engineering expertise and the opportunities of being a team in the EcoCAR Challenge.

In total more than 1,500 students and parents passed through the EcoCAR exhibit. Students were particularly interested in learning how hydrogen could be sourced as a fuel for the team’s vehicle.  Since hydrogen can be separated from water (H2O) through electrolysis, the team’s engineers demonstrated how electricity generated from clean sources like the sun could be used to create hydrogen and power a fuel cell vehicle.

UWAFT members Paul Nowosielski and Gurhari Singh explain the environmental benefits of their Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

The day after the engineering department event, UWAFT was at it again, as the EcoCAR exhibit hosted 7,000 high school students and their parents for Waterloo’s annual March Break Open House.  As aspiring university students and future engineers, these youngsters discovered that much of their future learning at university could very well occur outside the classroom. UWAFT highlighted the main goals and challenges of the EcoCAR competition, as well as showcasing the team’s work with industry and government to help green the automotive industry.  Parents were eager to get their children involved in a program that offers the fantastic undergraduate opportunity to work on real-world vehicles that could make a difference for generations to come.

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Last Friday was the 41st anniversary of Earth Day in the United States. EcoCAR teams decided to celebrate by giving back to their local communities and celebrating a greener Earth throughout the week. Teams held ride and drives, participated in environmentally friendly events, and promoted the EcoCAR competition in their communities.

EcoCAR teams took the opportunity to work with local Clean Cities Coalitions to promote Earth Day as well! Georgia Tech’s EcoCAR team partnered with Clean Cities Atlanta to participate in the 14th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Georgia Tech’s campus, which was chosen to host the team’s consumer campaign. More than 3,000 people attended the Earth Day Celebration at GT, making it as one of the largest Earth Day events in the southeastern United States!

Rose-Hulman celebrated Earth Day by taking part in an Earth Day celebration at their neighbor school, Indiana State University. The team also collaborated with the Greater Indiana Clean Cities at Earth Day Indiana, which hosted more than 140 environmental exhibits from across Indiana.

UW Faculty Advisor Glenn Bower and team members talk to attendees at the their Earth Day event

The University of Wisconsin participated in the Rockwell Automation Earth Day Event with the local Wisconsin Clean Cities Coalition. The team handed out tire pressure gauges to attendees and even displayed their EcoCAR during a ‘Green Technology’ portion of the event.

The University of Victoria team showcased their vehicle at a local library’s green technologies event. Team members had the chance to talk to local youth about environmental sustainability and how the EcoCAR competition is helping the environment.

State Rep. Scott Conklin and State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham visit PSU EcoCAR Garage for a Ride and Drive

Penn State’s EcoCAR team celebrated Earth Day by welcoming State Representative Scott Conklin to their garage for a ride and drive. The team also took part in a campus-wide Earth Day celebration, in which they took that opportunity to publicly launch their new iPhone application, PSU EcoCAR, an education app which allows iPhone users to interact with the team while on the go!

The Virginia Tech EcoCAR team kicked off Earth Week by displaying their vehicle on the National Mall for EPA’s Earth Day. You can check out their Green Garage Blog post to learn more about their event!

Michigan Tech cleaning debris alongside their garage facilities

Other teams, like Michigan Tech, decided to get their hands dirty by picking up trash and debris in ditches alongside their garage facilities. Despite the snowy conditions for late-April, the team enjoyed cleaning up the community and allowed for some team bonding!

EcoCAR teams are constantly giving back by working on and creating the next generation of clean automobiles that reduce environmental impact. Although Earth Day is only one day a year, EcoCAR challenges the world to strive towards making every day Earth Day!

The University of Victoria EcoCAR team held its first vehicle showcase of the year at the Vancouver Central Library. The showcase gave the public a unique opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge technologies the EcoCAR team is using to build its hybrid vehicle as well as the tremendous benefits next-generation vehicles and green technology can bring to consumers and the environment.

The team rented two spaces on the inner promenade of the library for the event. The students set up a booth that included the UVic EcoCAR, monitors displaying videos and tools used for virtual testing, and posters showing the different components of the car. The team also handed out brochures and vehicle spec cards.

Approximately 5,000 people walked through the inside promenade of the library during the event, and the team was able to benefit from the foot traffic. Enthusiastic passer-bys of all ages stopped at the booth to see the car and ask questions. The two most common questions included:

–          Why should we choose hybrid technology?

–          What makes next generation hybrid technology different from standard hybrid technology?

Overall, the students received very positive feedback from their audience. The people of Vancouver were really enthusiastic about a competition that encourages the development of next generation vehicles.

In the morning, the UVic students also had the chance to visit with Paul Connors, Deputy Director and Trade Commissioner, Vancouver Regional Office, and Eric H. Barker, Senior Advisor, Clean Energies, Pacific Region. Both were excited about the EcoCAR initiative and offered the UVic students any assistance they could provide.

Thousands of car enthusiasts braved the blustery winter wind earlier this year to visit the Pittsburgh International Auto Show, an event that truly had something for everyone. Some hunted for the KidsZone to get their children intricate balloon animals and some searched for the best French fries, but others made their way to the Green Street area to learn more about ‘greener’ automotive options.

At the end of the long, green carpet in the midst of the latest hybrids, electric and alternative fuel vehicles, stood the Penn State EcoCAR team’s Green Street exhibit. Several engineers and outreach members spent the weekend explaining new technologies, answering questions and describing the EcoCAR competition.

Penn State team members were surprised by how much support they received, even in University of Pittsburgh territory! Many people who visited the exhibit were blown away that college students were capable of designing and implementing such complicated advanced vehicle technologies.

The Penn State team with their vehicle in Yuma, AZ

It was a rewarding experience for students to talk with visitors about Penn State’s vehicle architecture and its similarity with the Chevrolet Volt. With all the recent hype about the Volt, many people were already familiar with the type of extended-range electric vehicle that Penn State has. Countless individuals praised the car’s electric motor with a small backup biodiesel engine, and many predicted that the entire automotive industry will move in this direction soon.

Whether vehicles like Penn State’s EcoCAR will dominate the industry or not, it was encouraging to see the number of people interested in more environmentally friendly transportation. Throughout the weekend, people told the team their stories and explained why they’re making the decision to drive ‘green.’ If the Pittsburgh Auto Show is any indication, American drivers are ready for the vehicles in the EcoCAR competition to move from Green Street to every street!

We have a breaking story on the Green Garage blog today as EcoCAR has announced the winner of the “Best Website” outreach award! UVic took home first place for the contest, which judged team websites based on content, creativity, and appeal. UVic will receive a $500 prize for winning, narrowly edging out second place finisher Ohio State and third place University of Waterloo.

The UVic website features a simple, intuitive layout with up-to-date news and blog posts. The site is visually appealing, with plenty of photos of the team’s vehicle and student team members. Sponsor logos and links to social networking tools are also prominently displayed, completing the EcoCAR judges’ criteria for the award.

Please join us in congratulating UVic and wishing them the best of luck during the last few months of the competition!

Later this week EcoCAR will announce the winner of an important outreach award.  The “Best Website” award will highlight the team that did the best job improving the style and functionality of their website for Year Three.

The Outreach Coordinators for Virginia Tech and MTU are hopeful... who will the winners be?

Previous outreach awards that were announced include the first and second place teams for Woodward’s MotorHawk Video Award which went to The Ohio State University and University of Waterloo respectively.

The Best Website award earns a cash prize for the winning team so the EcoCAR competitors will be excited to hear the outcome – be sure to check back in a few days to find out who won!

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!

The University of Victoria’s outreach coordinator Jason Mayard just returned from two very busy weeks in Ann Arbor. The Spring Workshop was a fantastic chance for Jason to meet the other outreach coordinators to get a feel for how UVic’s outreach measured up to the other teams.  More than a simple workshop, the meeting at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was essentially an opportunity to gather people together and share experiences.

During the workshop, Jason had an interesting experience presenting to a classroom of 7th grade students because it was the first time he had served as a teacher. Jason successfully adapted his message to the younger audience and apart from coming away feeling several years older, found teaching the excited kids very rewarding.

Jason with a group of students

Presenting the sponsor success story to the competition judges with a business background was another challenge for the UVic outreach coordinator. Jason’s talk about Hardware-in-the-Loop, virtual models, and the almighty cutting-edge controllers got technical at times, but he was well-prepared to promote the team effectively. Jason became much more confident after sitting down with the engineers and learning a great deal about the technical concepts of the EcoCAR. He proved such a quick study that he has almost considered switching to engineering studies…almost.

The UVic outreach coordinator was thankful to the organizers, especially those involved in the outreach program, for making themselves available to help and support the OCs from the different teams. He will continue to lead the team’s marketing effort as they head down the home stretch of the EcoCAR competition!

Two local middle schools in Michigan received a special visit last week from 15 EcoCAR Outreach Coordinators for the Spring Workshop Outreach Day.

Rose Hulman and WVU present to students at Slauson Middle School

Each Outreach Coordinator was paired with another Outreach Coordinator from a different university to present to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at both Fortis Academy in Ypsilanti, MI and Slauson Middle School in Ann Arbor, MI. These presentations ranged from discussing the different alternative fuels and the EcoCAR program to hands-on activities.

One presentation included a hands-on activity that encouraged students to create their own ‘car’ based on size of the vehicle, fuel selection, and architecture. They then had to come up with a name, slogan, and price for the car, and pitch it to their fellow classmates. The winning team created a mid-size hydrogen fuel cell named the ‘Aqua Mobile.’

“It’s amazing to see the kids put on their thinking caps and come up with ideas of how they could make their vehicles more environmentally friendly,” said Georgia Tech Outreach Coordinator Kary Winkler.

The students were also able to see a Chevy EcoCAR first hand and take photos with the car.

“Kids today are so much more aware of alternative energy, but it makes you think of how important it is to have outreach events at schools,” said North Carolina State Outreach Coordinator Divya Ramamurthi. “It really puts it back into perspective how much we can achieve by talking to students.”

Probably the most impressive thing during Outreach Day was the number of in-depth questions students asked the Coordinators about hybrids and alternative fuels.

“As someone who’s been with the program for more than a year, I always find it encouraging when I visit a school and the kids know more about advanced vehicles than I did in the early stages of the program,” said Lesley McLelland, Outreach Coordinator for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). “It really is an honor to be part of a program that allows us to teach young people about green technologies.”

MS and T, NCSU, and UOIT Present to 8th Grade Students

The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) recently took their EcoCAR outreach campaign into the community to talk with hockey fans about electric vehicles.  The UWAFT students presented an EcoCAR exhibit to fans at the Kitchener Rangers OHL hockey game on February 6th.  Kitchener is a neighboring city to Waterloo in South West Ontario.  A sold-out arena of 6,600 people attended the game and more than 200 fans stopped at the EcoCAR exhibit to learn about electric vehicles.

EcoCAR volunteers, Tom Posavad and Paul Nowosielski, greeted by the Kitchener Rangers team mascot during the game.

During this event, UWAFT highlighted the ways in which it has maintained and enhanced the driving performance of its GM-donated vehicle, while significantly improving its emissions performance.  Overall, people that visited the EcoCAR exhibit were surprised to learn that UWAFT has been able to design an electric vehicle that will meet the acceleration capabilities (0 to 60 km/h in 10 seconds) of a stock vehicle, while removing all harmful tailpipe emissions.

Tom Posavad, explaining the environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

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