EcoCar 2 team places third and brings home $21K from national competition

Posted: May 30, 2013

The Ohio State University EcoCAR 2 team captured third place honors at the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future competition last week in Yuma, Arizona, and San Diego.

This is the second year of the three-year competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and 30 other government and industry leaders. The event offers students the opportunity to gain real-world automotive engineering experience, while striving to improve the environmental impact and energy efficiency of an already highly-efficient vehicle, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

The Ohio State EcoCAR team consists of 15 graduate students and 30 undergraduate students advised by Ohio State Center for Automotive Research and College of Engineering faculty. The team consists of wide range of majors including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, business and photography. This is Ohio State’s 19th year in participating in advanced vehicle technology competitions and the 5th consecutive year of placing in the top 5.

The 15 competing universities gathered in Yuma for six rigorous days of vehicle testing and evaluation on drive quality and environmental impact at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground. From there, the competition moved to San Diego for the second round of judging by automotive industry experts.

The Ohio State team won the most awards out of all competing universities, and earned $21,000 in award money. The award money will fuel the team's preparation for the Year Three portion of the competition. Awards won by The Ohio State University team include: Best Technical Report; Best Progress Reports; Best Business Plan; Best Sponsorship Pitch; Best Business Plan Results Report; Best Collaboration with a Clean Cities; Best Winter Workshop Modeling and Simulation Presentation; Best Electrical Presentation; Women in Engineering Award (MJ Yatsko); 1st Place Business Program; 2nd Place MathWorks Modeling Award; and 2nd Place Communications Program.

"The students competing in EcoCAR 2 are leading the way in designing and building the next generation of American-made automobiles that will reduce our dependence on oil and save families and businesses money at the pump,” said David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future follows the widely acclaimed competition series EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, in which the Ohio State team placed 2nd overall during that three-year contest.

In the Yuma portion of the competition, the Ohio State team faced multiple mechanical problems with the parallel-series plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Despite the slow start in Yuma, the team excelled at every presentation in the second portion of the competition in San Diego, bringing them up to a 3rd place overall finish. Penn State University took top honors this year, followed closely by Cal State Los Angeles in second place.

“Competition was a really rewarding experience," said Sarah Vasey, business manager for the Ohio State team. "It was neat to see everything come together over the past two weeks.” Vasey, a recent graduate from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, swept all awards in the business categories, including best final business presentation and 1st place business program, which has never been done by an EcoCAR team before.

Next year, it is the team’s goal to bring home the winning title during the third and final year of competition. Year Three of the EcoCAR 2 competition requires university teams to focus on the refinement of their vehicles, with the ultimate goal of creating a showroom ready vehicle. In addition, the teams must meet outreach deliverables by attending events in the local community and by educating the public on advanced vehicle technologies.