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This week’s Mentor Monday post features two EcoCAR mentors: Amanda Kalhous, the GM mentor for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and Paul Shoytush, the GM mentor for Penn State.

Amanda is an engineering specialist in infotainment/telematics at General Motors of Canada’s Regional Engineering Centre. She joined the GM team in 2005 and has been working on Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) since 2008 – the year the EcoCAR competition started. 

GM mentor, Amanda Kalhous, and UOIT controls team lead, Hugo Provencher, reviewing vehicle error messages

“Right now, my team is working on the finishing touches of their lithium-polymer battery pack,” said Amanda. “They recently solved an issue with their motor that was limiting their torque output. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together at competition.”

The team’s enthusiasm reminds her of why she loves being an engineer. “The best part of working with the UOIT team is getting to know the students and to see how bright the future of automotive engineers will be,” said Amanda. “It’s invigorating.”

Paul Shoytush, a senior project engineer for GM, is the EcoCAR mentor for his alma mater, Penn State. Paul recently visited campus to help the team get their 1.3 Liter diesel engine running, a key step in rebuilding the EcoCAR.

GM mentor, Paul Shoytush, working on control algorithms in Penn State's research lab

“The best part of being a mentor is watching the students succeed and helping them in the process,” said Paul. “It really is amazing to see the students working as hard as they do. All of their hard work will pay off in Yuma.”

“Working with Paul over the last few years has been incredible,” said Penn State faculty advisor, Gary Neal. “Besides the fact he is a Penn State alum, Paul has always put in that extra effort to help out the team. That is what the Advanced Vehicle Team needs – a mentor who is always there and appreciates what they do.”

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) EcoCAR team has worked tirelessly throughout the academic year to build its all electric vehicle for the EcoCAR 2010 Competition Finals, May 17-27, 2010 in Yuma, AZ and San Diego, CA. Like the other 15 universities competing in the EcoCAR Challenge, the UOIT team has put in countless hours and had many sleepless nights in the last several months to prepare for the Safety & Technical Inspection this March.

UOIT team members look on as their vehicle is inspected

Michael Wahlstrom, an engineer and safety tech inspector for the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions at Argonne National Laboratory, paid the team a visit on March 15th and inspected their vehicle meticulously. Mike evaluated the vehicle to ensure that the team had followed the EcoCAR safety and technical rules and pointed out areas that needed attention prior to shipping the vehicle to competition in early May.

Mike Wahlstrom takes a look at the team's battery pack

UOIT’s electric vehicle has the largest battery pack in the EcoCAR fleet, making it imperative that all fault modes be considered and that mitigation procedures are put in place in order to eliminate all risk of injury to the driver or passengers. When storing almost 80 kWh of energy, a fault in the system could mean trouble if sound engineering practices and key fault mitigation procedures are not implemented properly.

Check out the video below to see some of the safety systems that have been installed in the team’s electric vehicle and see how “UOIT Plays it Safe” for EcoCAR.

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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