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Our time at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma was tough, but fantastic! The teams worked around the clock to cycle their vehicles through different tests and even make some changes along the way – and now their work is nearly done!

We are headed to sunny California for the last leg of the EcoCAR Year Two Finals where teams will show the judges their static presentations and we’ll announce the 2010 winners of the competition!

Check out the video below of the teams wrapping up in Yuma and starting their journey to San Diego. See you there!

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the EcoCAR Challenge by watching another installment of the Yuma Confessionals!

Below is a video discussing a sticky situation the Penn State team faced.

Thursday and Friday were bustling with media at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground (DPG) in Yuma, Arizona! On Thursday, a few of the most influential green and automotive journalists arrived from as far away as New York and hung out with the teams to get a first-hand look inside the EcoCARs. If the vehicles weren’t exciting enough, it’s also the first time national members of the media have been invited to DPG. The list of media in Yuma included:

Members of the national media learning more about EcoCAR

On Friday, the teams were delighted to host members of the local Yuma media. Journalists were invited to meet the teams, observe the testing sessions, tour the pits and get under the hood of the different vehicles. There’s naturally a strong community connection between DPGY and Yuma and the students couldn’t be more excited to have their support!

A number of great local media outlets came to DPGY on Friday

Thanks to everyone for coming out to the DPGY!

It is Day Five at Yuma and the teams are spending all their time intensely focused on dynamic testing and judging. It seems like forever until the Year Two winners will be announced – next Thursday at the San Diego House of Blues, but teams know all their hard work will pay off.

Until then, check out the video below to see how the vehicles fare when faced with the rigorous and critically important AVL DRIVE quality testing and Emissions & Energy Consumption events.

For the past two days, the UOIT EcoCAR team has been hard at work preparing our car for testing at the GM Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona.  With so much work to be done, productive collaboration between our Mechanical, Energy Storage and Controls groups is imperative. We recognized early on that team work is the catalyst to our common goal – a car that promotes sustainable technology and maintains consumer appeal in the areas of performance, utility and safety.

Joe Brennan and Shawn Sandham

At the GM Proving Grounds, each team has been assigned a GM pit coordinator to help us navigate our way around the shop. We were fortunate enough to receive the help of a GM technician from DPGY, Anne Chapman, whose guidance has been invaluable from the offset. After two long days with us, she seems to have developed a good idea of what our team is all about.

“I’m amazed at how well everyone works together. You are so well organized, it’s like you’ve been working together for years. Your coordination rivals that of some professional teams I’ve seen. It’s been a pleasure to watch.”

And it’s been a pleasure for us to be mentored by so many experienced industry professionals. Many thanks to our sponsors, particularly the U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Lab and General Motors, without whom we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work together on such an exciting project.

Pierre Hinse and Helen Qin

Congratulations to the first three teams to pass Safety/Tech Inspection. Mississippi State and Penn State officially passed their inspections  late last night, and UOIT  passed early this morning.

The UOIT team was close to passing earlier, but just kept encountering small problems that seemed to take much more time than expected to remedy. The team said they spent a lot of time wrapping wires in the correct colors of tape and making sure certain areas of the vehicle were labeled with the correct signage.

The Mississippi State team was the first team to pass Safety/Tech Inspections

Mississippi State passed the inspection slightly before Penn State, but the teams actually worked together to solve some of their problems, including controls issues. Teams shared notes and expertise to help each other along.

“Being the first to pass Safety Inspection doesn’t mean we are ahead in the competition,” said Matt Doude, team leader for Mississippi State University.  “Our biggest events are still ahead of us and there are so many awesome teams that we have to compete against.  It’s going to be tough.”

All the teams have been hard at work,  and teams from University of Victoria, North Carolina, and Wisconsin are in the queue for their safety inspection this afternoon.

Want to see the true colors… and frustrations… that the EcoCAR teams are experiencing? During Finals everyone needs somewhere they can vent. So, we’ve created the virtual “confessional” for teams to share their thoughts on what’s going well and what’s providing the biggest challenges.

Enjoy our first installment below!

The very first event that teams must pass when they get to competition is the Safety Technical Inspection. Safety is always the top priority being stressed during competition, and organizers don’t want the vehicles and teams doing anything until they know their vehicle is completely safe. But the team of safety inspectors also uses the event as a teaching opportunity.

“We don’t just tell them that a certain part of their vehicle won’t pass safety inspection,” said Danny Bocci, one of the safety inspectors. “We tell them why it’s wrong and help show them how to fix it. We want them to have a solid foundation built on safety when they go into their automotive careers.”

ANL's Mike Wahlstrom talks to students during the Safety/Tech inspections.

Teams began going through Safety Inspection yesterday morning, but because the rules are very strict, most get a list of items to repair or change before they are officially passed.  Safety inspectors reported that many teams struggled with their electrical system.  Because each team designed their own systems, some of the wires were either too large or too small, and because this was a high voltage area, it’s really important. They soon learned that if their parts were too small, they might be just the right size for another team. Soon several of the teams were exchanging parts.

“One team’s oversized part is another team’s treasure,” said Bocci.

The garage has been a buzz of activity all day, with teams scrambling to be the first to pass Safety Inspection. With several teams almost done with their safety checklist, vehicles will soon be out on the track, undergoing rigorous qualifying events.

Check out the video below to see highlights from Day One: teams arriving, Skit Night and EcoCARs in Safety/Tech and other qualifying events.

We are so psyched to be here at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona! It’s an incredible facility and the teams are fortunate to have such a state-of-the-art place to put their cars to the test.

Everyone’s EcoCARs arrived safely to the proving grounds last week from their university garages. Over the weekend, organizers have been gearing up for the competition finals, making all the final preparations to host more than 300 students, faculty, sponsors and judges when the pits open at the proving ground tomorrow at 7 AM.

The Safety & Technical Inspection team also conducted a preliminary review of all the competition entries over the weekend so the teams will know exactly where they’ll need to turn their wrenches to pass the grueling “Safety/Tech” inspection. Safety/Tech is the first step to qualify for scored dynamic events so teams are anxious to get in the pits to get started.

But before the intense competition begins, teams will be enjoying some outrageous fun with the ever-so-popular “Skit Night” event. The official kick-off of the 2010 EcoCAR competition will include an Air Band contest among all the teams. Look for updates tomorrow on the Green Garage Blog!

Look for more details in the EcoCAR Program, available online here.

We are thrilled to announced that all 16 EcoCARs have been approved to ship to Yuma! Thirteen of the vehicles are already on the way to the Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona and the remaining three will be picked up today.

This weekend, the EcoCARs will undergo an initial safety and technical inspection before the teams arrive and the competition kicks off on Tuesday, May 18.

The EcoCAR Year Two Finals is only one week away and anticipation and excitement is high!

The Ohio State EcoCAR heading to Yuma!

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