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Ohio State is first university to host Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition workshop

photo of the EcoCAR3 Year One Fall Workshop The Ohio State University hosted the Year One Fall Workshop for the EcoCAR 3 competition October 21-24. It was the first time an Advanced Technology Vehicle Competition (AVTC) workshop has been held on a college campus. 

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy since 1988, the competitions provide real-world automotive challenges for graduate and undergraduate students. The EcoCAR series began in 2008, requiring teams to re-engineer a car into a hybrid-electric vehicle that runs off of alternative fuels. EcoCAR 3 gives teams four years to transform a Chevrolet Camaro, provided by sponsor General Motors.

Held in the Ohio Union, the workshop drew 145 students from the 16 university teams nationwide who sought to gain insight on cutting-edge vehicle technology and tools from industry sponsors.

Shawn Midlam-Mohler, co-faculty advisor of the Ohio State EcoCAR team and director of Ohio State Motorsports, said the workshop was an opportunity to showcase what the university has to offer in the area of transportation.

“It’s a great chance to bring in lots of folks from our peer universities and industry who haven’t had a chance to actually be on campus,” said Midlam-Mohler. “We hosted a tour for sponsors of the Center for Automotive Research, one of the hubs of automotive research in the region.”

The workshop was structured around several tracks corresponding to various functions on each EcoCAR team, such as engineering, business and communications. Competition sponsors, including General Motors, Argonne Laboratories, Siemens, MathWorks and Bosch, advised students on topics ranging from system optimization to cost estimation to social media strategy. 

The Ohio State team hopes to repeat their first place overall EcoCAR2 finish in the latest competition, which emphasizes innovation and cost efficiency alongside the mechanical, electrical and control factors involved in developing the car.

“If you look over the years of AVTCs, lots of patents have come out of them. We really want to bring it back to creating those innovative aspects,” said Dana Bubonovich, AVTC communications specialist at competition sponsor Argonne National Laboratory. “And on the consumer acceptability side, how much does it cost to build this vehicle? They’re not only going to have to look at the cost effectiveness of their parts, but how they will function.”

The workshop activities reflected this added focus and included lessons students don’t always get in their courses, such as how to pitch potential sponsors.

“Experiential learning projects like EcoCAR are one of the most valuable experiences for our engineering, business and communications students,” said Midlam-Mohler. “These students effectively are creating a high-tech business within Ohio State to research, design, and build an advanced technology vehicle. Employers take note of this type of experience and our students’ success in the job market speaks for itself.”

Ashley Yost, communications manager for Arizona State’s team, said the workshop was valuable for schools like hers that are still solidifying their automotive program.

“I’m excited that Arizona State is involved because we have the opportunity to not only mix and mingle with all these other teams, but also find out what they think works the best in the competition,” Yost said. 

M.J. Yatsko, co-engineering manager for the Ohio State EcoCAR 3 team and mechanical engineering graduate student, said the real-world experience and networking opportunities the competitions provide have put her ahead of her peers in the workplace.

“I had an internship in the automotive industry and I was able to just jump right in because they didn’t need to tell me what a hybrid was or how the vehicle development process works. They knew I was in EcoCAR and they valued that experience so much,” Yatsko said.

Written by Karlie Frank

Tags: Students