Automotive engineering students excel in EcoCAR Mobility Challenge

Posted: May 27, 2022
2022 Ohio State EcoCAR team

The Ohio State University EcoCAR team continued their winning ways, placing second overall in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge’s final year and earning several first place awards for exceptional technical work.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors, and MathWorks, the four-year competition tasked 11 universities with reengineering a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer by utilizing electrification, advanced propulsion systems and automated vehicle technology. The goal was to improve the car’s energy efficiency while balancing emissions, safety and consumer appeal factors.

The team of 32 undergraduate and graduate students represent five departments within the College of Engineering. The group also includes students from the Fisher College of Business.

The Year 4 Competition started in Yuma, Arizona, on May 9, where teams began week-long vehicle technical inspections and dynamic vehicle testing events at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground. Vehicle testing events included evaluations of safety, propulsion system drive quality, energy consumption, adaptive cruise control quality and connectivity and automated features.

Ohio State's EcoCAR Blazer
Ohio State's EcoCAR Blazer on the way from Yuma to Phoenix.

“The team originally hoped to get through our testing early in the competition, but some issues we ran into leading up to testing severely limited our time,” said Team Lead Ron Smith, a mechanical engineering graduate student. “In fact, we managed to complete all of the dynamic vehicle testing for competition on the final day. It is just emblematic of the grit, determination, and perseverance held by all members of the team.”

Each team then drove their Blazer 170 miles to Phoenix on May 14 for final presentations. Unlike other dynamic events, the drive was conducted in real-world driving conditions, exposing vehicles to variables such as grade and traffic that are not experienced in any other competition module.

In addition to placing second overall, the Buckeyes were recognized for outstanding performance across all events of the competition, taking home an impressive nine awards:

  • Outstanding Team & Sponsor Collaboration
  • 1st Place: Mid-Year Project Status Presentation
  • 1st Place: Final Technical Report
  • 1st Place: Propulsion Systems Integration Presentation
  • 1st Place: Human-Machine Interface and User Experience Presentation
  • 1st Place: Consumer Appeal Event
  • 1st Place: AAM Workmanship Award
  • 1st Place: dSPACE Leadership in Validation Award
  • 3rd Place: Communications Presentation

The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge celebrated winners in dozens of categories. In total, more than $100,000 in prize money was awarded to the participating universities. The Buckeyes earned $18,000 from their performance.

Shaumya Jha works on the Ohio State EcoCAR Blazer
Graduate student Shaumya Jha work on the Blazer's connected and automated systems.

Ohio State student teams have participated in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1990 and have placed in the top three in 13 of the last 14 years, including first place seven times.

Beginning this fall, Ohio State will partner with Wilberforce University in the EcoCAR EV Challenge as one of 15 teams challenged to design, build, refine and demonstrate the potential of the advanced propulsion systems and connected and automated technologies in a 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ.

"EcoCAR exemplifies DOE's commitment to building a diverse, clean energy talent pipeline," said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "Through programs like this one, we will strengthen our domestic manufacturing and our ability to compete globally, as we prepare this next generation of innovators."

Listen and learn more: In a recent episode of the Enginuity podcast, College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard chatted with two leaders of the team – Shaumya Jha and Colin Knight – about the Mobilty Challenge and the upcoming EV Challenge, what they’ve learned, and how participating helps students prepare for life after graduation.