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Each month, the OSU EcoCAR Outreach Team features a sponsor interview on YouTube. At the National Science Foundation Conference in January, team members Abbey Underwood and Sarah Jadwin asked Donald Senich, senior advisor for the National Science Foundation, some questions for the Sponsor Series.

Check out the video below to see Don speak about the National Science Foundation’s sponsorship of EcoCAR and the future of hybrid vehicles. The NSF has been involved in the EcoCAR Challenge and related events for more than 15 years, and has used the competition as a window to new ideas and opportunities.

In addition to Don, the Outreach Team has been able to interview several other executives this year, including: Sam Spofforth, executive director of Clean Fuels Ohio, Kent Helfrich, General Motors’ executive director for electronic controls & software and executive lead for the EcoCAR competition, and Jeff Hemphill, vice president of product development for Luk, USA. To see more of these videos, visit the OSU EcoCAR YouTube page!

As the deadline to ship their EcoCAR (the VT-REX) out for EPA testing creeps closer, the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team at Virginia Tech (HEVT) is working hard to make significant changes to its vehicle. Last week, the team focused on making improvements to the 360 Volt, A123 Lithium Ion Phosphate battery pack. While incorporating the battery, HEVT has been challenged to maintain adequate cargo space and eliminate a large gap between the floor pan and the battery base plate, but these issues have been addressed in the latest round of improvements.

For starters, HEVT lowered the battery using a new layout that contains all battery modules within the frame rails of the car. This adjustment helps open up more space in the trunk and lowers the center of gravity in the rear, which helps alleviate over-steer. In addition, the passenger compartment is now completely sealed from outside elements including carbon monoxide, road debris, and noise.

Changes to the battery, including a redesign of the high voltage battery pack, are largely motivated by the installation of a more powerful rear traction motor. HEVT engineers dedicated the majority of the week to rewiring the low voltage communication harness as well as the high voltage wires in order to accommodate the new battery module layout.

To complete the battery upgrades, HEVT needs to finalize the wiring, permanently mount the modules to the base plate, and finally secure the top of the battery case. The team is confident that these modifications will ensure the VT-REX is a highly efficient and “green” vehicle by improving its electric capabilities.

Check out the video below to watch HEVT updating its EcoCAR battery!

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the Penn State EcoCAR team!

Take a look at the video below to see how designing their EcoCAR vehicle has prepared Penn State team members for careers in automotive engineering.

Exposure to General Motors’ (GM) vehicle development process, as well as hands-on experience in vehicle design and integration, has given these students unparalleled training in their field. According to GM mentor Paul Shoytush, “If you want to work in the automotive industry, this is the best way to gain experience and to show the automotive industry what you can do.”

The Penn State vehicle, which uses a series architecture that incorporates B20 fuel into a diesel engine, took home 3rd place at the EcoCAR Year Two Finals, and we can’t wait to see how the team does in Year Three!

In late 2010, the Ohio State University EcoCAR team entered the Woodward “How-to Video” competition. The team’s video explains how OSU has applied two Woodward MotoHawk controllers to the design of their plug-in EREV vehicle in the EcoCAR competition. Woodward tools allow for rapid development of vehicle systems with improved performance and efficiency. The OSU team uses a Woodward 128-pin MotoHawk ECM to develop engine controls that convert a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine to run on E85 ethanol with a high compression ratio for improved efficiency. A second Woodward controller, a 48-pin MotoHawk ECM, manages startup, cooling, and driver interface functions throughout the vehicle.

The OSU team is extremely proud of their video (featured below) and hopes Woodward can use it for educational purposes in the future. OSU would also like to wish all the teams that participated in the competition the best of luck!

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the Missouri S&T EcoCAR team!

Check out the video below to hear from team members about the invaluable contributions EcoCAR is making to the university and how they have personally benefited from participating in the competition.

Students are not only applying their studies to their work with EcoCAR, team members are bringing a wealth of knowledge obtained through the EcoCAR experience back into the classroom. Add $5 million in stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and excellent educators and what’s the result? A remarkable academic program that would make virtually any university green with envy. You can read more about Missouri S&T’s innovative coursework in the GG blog post – Courses Charge Up Future Electric Vehicle Plug-In Engineers.

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the Rose Hulman EcoCAR team!

Watch the video below to hear about how RHIT drives their Pre Post Trans Parallel Hybrid vehicle almost every day and about some of the latest modifications they’re making based on the invaluable feedback they continue to receive from industry professionals.

Rose-Hulman Faculty Advisor Marc Herniter sums up the EcoCAR experience quite well when he asserts, “If you want to be part of the future and change the world, this is the project you want to be in.”


In the spirit of the holidays, the EcoCAR teams decided to do some caroling – with a Green Garage twist. Check out the video below to hear an EcoCAR-themed rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which compiles the ‘greatest hits’ from your favorite EcoCAR teams.

Thank you to all the teams who participated. We hope this song brings you holiday cheer as you wrap up final exams!

Deck the walls of your Facebook profile by sharing these holiday tidings – just put the following link into your status:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOGoTEVE4ag.

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the Georgia Tech EcoCAR team!

Check out the video below to find out a little about GT’s two-mode hybrid EcoCAR and to hear a few of the many convincing reasons to get involved in the EcoCAR Challenge. A reason provided by the GM mentor for the Georgia Tech EcoCAR team, Bill Venner – the skills students obtain through EcoCAR “will allow them to pick whatever job they want in the hybrid industry.”

The Georgia Tech team is very excited about their Year Three progress. The vehicle is coming along great and they’re enjoying every step as they complete their design! Georgia Tech has been making serious strides under the hood as well as inside its vehicle. As the team’s controls leader, Carlos Cubero, explains in the first video below, they have made improvements to increase safety, pedal response and overall driving experience.

In the second video below, mechanical leader, John Arata, explains the benefits of the vehicle’s touchscreen display on the center console.

Keep up the great work Georgia Tech!

Progress report from Carlos Cubero

John Arata talks touchscreens:

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the University of Victoria EcoCAR team!

Watch the video below to learn about UVic’s plan for optimizing their vehicle in Year Three and for more details about their EcoCAR, a plug-in hybrid extended range electric vehicle. The EcoCAR may start off operating by battery power, but don’t underestimate its capabilities – team members estimate that their EcoCAR can go from 0 to 60mph in 7.5 seconds!

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