By the University of Wisconsin’s Will O’Connor
I first learned about the UW Hybrid Vehicle Team and the EcoCAR program at the Engineering Bash hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an event that showcases engineering student organizations for incoming freshman. I was a complete novice but the leaders took me under their wings and taught me volumes about vehicle design.
In my second year on the team I became mechanical team leader and had the responsibility of integrating all new components into the vehicle, including the two traction motors, both motor controllers, the turbocharged engine, a new transmission, and the high voltage battery. With the help of many students we were able to integrate everything just in the nick of time for Year Two Finals in 2010. Going into my junior year at Madison I picked up the responsibility of Assistant Team Leader. I still helped with the mechanical side of the team because working on the car is far more enjoyable than paperwork.
I have learned so much over the three years I have spent on the team that I wouldn’t be able to learn anywhere else. Making a design that is good both on paper and in real life is definitely the best thing I have learned from this experience. I think my favorite moment was when we discovered the musical ability of a coolant hose at 5 am when we were trying to get the engine started for the first time. It has been tons of fun being on the team and I’m looking forward to continuing to working with advanced vehicle technologies in the future.