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As a sponsor of the EcoCAR Challenge, Woodward has generously provided three products to University of Waterloo’s Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) including: (1) MotoTron Electronic Control Modules (ECM), (2) MotoTools Software for testing and programming the ECMs, and (3) an interchangeable breakout board also used for testing the ECMS.

Woodward has not only supplied UWAFT with these great products, but the company has also provided UWAFT with incredible customer service. Below is a video of technical team captain, Mike Giannikouris demonstrating the rapid development and real-time control capabilities of MotoTools as he programs the vehicle’s cooling fan. This is just a single example of how Woodward technology makes it simple for engineers to program vehicle components.

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 Mentor Monday post takes a look into the lives of three men that participated in Challenge X, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition that preceded EcoCAR. Ron Lewis (Mississippi State), Steve Scott (University of Michigan), and Kennabec Walp (Mississippi State) all took a moment to reflect on their Challenge X experiences and how the program helped get them to where they are today!

Ron Lewis found that the competition helped many students, including himself, decide on a specific direction for their future work. “Challenge X helped set my career path and allowed me to gain much needed experience with a large long term project. The experience gave me a leg up when it came time to search for a position. I was already headed down the path of automotive engineering, and the Challenge X program definitely reassured my choice for a career,” said Lewis, now an applications engineer for Woodward.

Steve Scott recalls how companies with products and tools used in the competitions also often realized the benefits of university sponsorships in the form of talent – the students often become recruits. “Corporate contacts made through Challenge X were directly responsible for my two most recent positions within the field of alternative powertrain development. In addition to offering unique hands-on experience, student competitions such as Challenge X and EcoCAR attract self-motivated students truly interested in the targeted technologies. These are just a few of the reasons progressive companies participate in and recruit heavily from student engineering competitions,” said Scott, now a senior systems engineer for Parker Hannifin Corporation and former applications engineer for Woodward.

Many students who participate in programs like Challenge X and EcoCAR learn valuable skills that are a priceless asset for future employment opportunities. “To be successful with my Challenge X projects, I needed to develop control systems quickly – MotoHawk enabled me to do just that. I was so excited by the innovative technology that it led to my career as a MotoHawk developer,” said Kennabec Walp, who is now an embedded software engineer for Woodward and the Woodward technical representative for EcoCAR.

Kennabec joined the MSU Challenge X team as a graduate student and says he picked up invaluable skills he wouldn’t have been exposed to in normal classroom experiences. “Challenge X gave me extensive hands-on experience with both existing technology as well as the leading edge of new technology such as hybrid vehicle designs and model based development,” he said.

Photo circa 2007

Nicole Hard at Work

Nicole Hard at Work

A look back on my first Fall Workshop as an organizer…

As a student in the EcoCAR competition, you never realize how much work goes into these workshops. All you really think about is when breakfast/lunch will be served, when the buses will come pick you up and what training course or session track to pick from.

After my first fall workshop as an organizer, I am awed by the amount of work it takes for these events to run smoothly. It really does take a village for these competition events to work effectively. Collaboration from so many sponsors like GM, DOE, the Government of Canada, A123Systems, The Math Works, dSPACE, NI, Woodward, EPA, Freescale and so many others make it possible for this program to become the success it always has been. It is really a great experience to be behind the scenes and help make the program a triumph.
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