EcoCAR team places second overall in Mobility Challenge Year Three

Posted: June 20, 2021

The Ohio State University EcoCAR team placed second overall in Year Three of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge and earned several awards for exceptional technical work.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors, and MathWorks, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge is a collegiate automotive engineering competition. It tasks 11 universities across North America to redesign the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer into an energy-efficient hybrid with semi-autonomous capabilities.

EcoCAR team working in motorsports garage
Team members work on their 2019 Chevy Blazer in the CAR motorsports garage late last year.

The team took home DOE's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Engineering Award, which recognizes a team’s efforts in incorporating traditionally underrepresented populations in STEM studies. They received a dSPACE Leadership in Validation Award, which is presented to a team based upon their profound use of dSPACE technologies in vehicle development. Finally, Ohio State’s EcoCAR team also earned top honors for Best Drive Quality Testing, Best Connected and Automated Vehicle Systems Presentation, and Best Final Technical Report, as well as runner-up recognition for Vehicle Technical Inspections and Spring Vehicle Evaluation.

The competition was held May 18-23 and included technical presentations and dynamic vehicle events. Unlike typical years, the event was held in a mostly virtual setting with Ohio State’s presentations broadcasted from the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) rather than in person, and dynamic events held at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty, Ohio. The team enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside peers from Virginia Tech University and West Virginia University at TRC.


This competition signified the end of a unique year in the history of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition series. The 2020-2021 academic year began with pandemic regulations in place and concluded with the return of the team to the CAR facility after a six-month hiatus. The team had to conform to a primarily virtual work environment and drastically alter their project plans after experiencing significant delays.

EcoCAR team member

Over the course of the year, the team has achieved propulsion systems integration with the addition of their new vehicle battery pack and implementation of their student-developed controls system. The vehicle is now capable of operating without any outside assistance and can successfully perform all necessary dynamic tests, including 0-60 acceleration, 60-0 braking, drive quality, and energy consumption. Moving forward, this progress allows the team of 10 graduate students to begin refinement and implementation of their connected and automated vehicle strategies, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane change on demand.

“The EcoCAR competition challenges students on a new level of technical application," said Professor Shawn Midlam-Mohler, Ohio State EcoCAR Faculty Advisor. "I am very proud of how the team members were able to apply themselves and rise to the occasion despite the uncertainties of the past year. There was a steep learning curve for everyone, but I feel everyone is encouraged by the success and ready to give the final year of the competition their all.”

Ohio State student teams have participated in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1990 and have placed first in six of the last eight years, including EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Year One in 2019.

Next year, the team will shift focus from the propulsion systems integration of their vehicle and continue to develop V2X strategies – a concept to connect the vehicle to smart infrastructure with the ability to communicate to other vehicles.

with contributions from Colin Knight, EcoCAR communications manager

Categories: StudentsResearch