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Not so long ago, Justin Kern was helping West Virginia University rebuild their FutureCar during the FutureCar Challenge. Since then, Justin has gone on to become an organizer and now sponsor of advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTCs).

After graduating from West Virginia University, Justin was hired by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to work on hybrid electric vehicle powertrains. In particular, he was able to perform chassis dyno testing of hybrid vehicles and supported the installation of the 4WD chassis dyno at ANL. During his time at ANL, he also acted as a technical coordinator for AVTCs and helped with the FutureTruck competition.

“College student competitions provided me with hands-on experience with advanced technology concepts that I would normally not have had a chance to experience,” he said.

Today, Justin works at Bosch, a sponsor of the EcoCAR competition. As a senior calibration engineer, he has become an expert in Motronic engine control software for gasoline direct injection engines.

“I work in the engine management systems group as a calibrator.  Our job is to take the engine control system and adjust parameters to ensure all the customer and legislated requirements are met.  I spend time in prototype vehicles working to get them functioning, and running tests to evaluate their performance in areas like drivability, emissions, cold starts and many other metrics.  And as a certified Motronic trainer, I teach classes for our customers.”

“From FutureCar to today’s EcoCAR Challenge, the changes in the student competitions parallel the industry advancements,” Justin said. “As a sponsor of the competition, it is nice to be able to provide this learning experience to future engineers, knowing how much I valued and gained from it.”

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The Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) program was started by Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy in 1987 and has included more than nine unique series over the last 22 years. Most recent AVTC series include EcoCAR, Challenge X and FutureTruck. Our latest “Where Are They Now” post features Shawn Midlam-Mohler, an AVTC alum who has contributed as a team member, team leader, and now faculty advisor for each of these recent AVTC series spanning the past 12 years.

Shawn started his M.S. at The Ohio State University in 1999 where he quickly got involved as a team member on the Ohio State FutureTruck team working on the Chevrolet Suburban, sponsored by GM. As a team member, Shawn worked on the emissions control system of the vehicle.  Shawn quickly discovered the significance of these competitions and signed up to be team leader for the Ford FutureTruck. During his time as a student, Shawn always felt that the time spent working on FutureTruck was one of the most valuable parts of his education.  Therefore, fostering this type of learning with new students was a natural fit for Shawn.

From 2004-2005, Shawn was focused mostly on completing his PhD, but still managed to support the Challenge X team at OSU. After completing his PhD in 2005, Shawn began working as a Research Engineer at The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research where he currently is employed today. This position allows Shawn to perform research for some of the best in the automotive industry. He has had the opportunity to work with General Motors, Chrysler, Tenneco, Cummins, and many others through SMART @CAR and the CAR Industrial Consortium. Shawn’s research includes emissions control, powertrain modeling and applied engine control.

Currently, Shawn serves as the Co-Faculty Advisor for The Ohio State EcoCAR team. His experience in AVTCs allows Shawn to keep the OSU EcoCAR team motivated and on track.

Shawn works with Ohio State EcoCAR students on testing their vehicle

Shawn jokes, “During my time as a student in the advanced vehicle competitions, it would be an understatement to say that we are more successful now than we were in the past. Our earlier trials and tribulations make the present look a lot rosier when something goes wrong.  As serious as a current setback seems, I can usually think of something worse that we’ve already experienced and learned from.”

Shawn believes AVTCs give students opportunities to engage in the applied side of engineering.  Shawn stated, “Application of engineering principles is what industry thrives on and participation in motorsports projects like EcoCAR are great ways for students to get that experience.”

In addition to his role as the EcoCAR faculty advisor, Shawn is gradually becoming more involved in teaching and supporting the research areas within The Ohio State University‘s mission.  Shawn is working with interdisciplinary capstone senior design and is striving to integrate motorsports’ projects into Ohio State’s curriculum. He is taking on more responsibilities with the entire spectrum of automotive student project teams at Ohio State.  The OSU EcoCAR team is fortunate to have such strong leadership from Shawn and looks forward to his continued support of advanced vehicle technology competitions for years to come!

Are you an AVTC alum? Share your “Where Are They Now” story with us at ecocar@greenough.com.

Where Are They Now this week highlights Mel Corrigan (previously Mel Fox), a Penn State and Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) alum who has spent her impressive academic career focused on Fuel Science research which ultimately led to her current position working on one of the most exciting innovations in vehicle technology.

Mel Corrigan began her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at Penn State-Altoona.  Throughout her time at Altoona, she participated in the Society for Automotive Engineering Mini Baja competition.  During her junior year, she moved to the Penn State-University Park campus, where she became involved in undergraduate research studies focusing on diesel exhaust aftertreatment.

While studying at Penn State, Mel interned at Toyota Motor Mfg. in Georgetown, Kentucky in their Facilities Controls Engineering department where she compiled weekly utility consumption reports for the nine plants at the facility.  At that time, Mel also took part in the Energy Team, examining methods of improving energy consumption for vehicle manufacturing processes.

In 2002, Mel obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at Wayne State University where she worked in an engine lab studying diesel combustion, She also participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) project to create safety-related exercises for chemical engineering textbooks.

Mel entered graduate school at Penn State in 2003, starting with a Master’s of Science in Fuel Science.  Her research focused on performing three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics of combustion in a coal-fired boiler.

After completing her Master’s degree, Mel decided to continue her studies and obtain her Ph. D. in Fuel Science.  She shifted gears in her research, moving from modeling to experiments and then began studying the effects of intake-induced turbulence on the combustion characteristics of hydrogen assisted natural gas combustion in a spark-ignition engine.

Mel (Fox) Corrigan

Mel became involved with the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Technologies team during Challenge X. During her graduate studies, Mel received a two-year fellowship that required her to do weekly science outreach in K-12 classrooms.  This program, GREATT (Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies), soon lead her to become the controls team leader for Penn State team in Year Two and the overall team leader during Year Three.

After completing a twelve-week internship in the Powertrain Systems Research group at General Motors during which she lead a project sampling and characterizing particulate matter from diesel combustion, Mel landed her first job with GM.

Mel now works as a Battery System Integration Engineer for the Chevy Volt.  She continues to support advanced vehicle technology competitions and acts as a judge for EcoCAR at workshops and competitions.  EcoCAR is not only thrilled to utilize Mel’s professional expertise, but also grateful to have her perspective as a former competitor as EcoCAR ushers in Year Three.

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