By Santhosh Jogi, Director of Engineering for dSPACE, Inc.
Being part of EcoCAR offers a fantastic opportunity to play a role in the development of new engineers who will take our industry through the next set of breakthroughs. Automotive technology must transform to meet future needs, and creative engineers able to take on complex open-ended challenges, like the students in EcoCAR 2, will lead the way.
As a sponsor and judge in the competition, Winter Workshop afforded the chance to both assist teams and also assess their progress and strategy. At this event, focus was on the HIL simulation environment, as it is critically important for teams to develop and test their supervisory control systems. The time my colleagues and I spent with teams during the HIL setup days and weekend training was invaluable. We were able work with each team, discuss ideas and challenges, and determine what kind of help and mentoring is needed – I see a few tech talks in the near future! It was also great for us to see all 15 teams able to run the requisite HIL demonstration for the judged event!
As a judge in the HIL Event, I had the opportunity to review the progress teams had made in development of their HIL test environment as well as their plans going forward. As with any competition, there were some teams ahead of others, but overall I was thoroughly impressed. The level of sophistication, creativity and maturity in what we saw during the presentation and HIL demonstration was outstanding. It was evident that teams are taking the bull by the horns (we were in Texas after all!) and not underestimating the magnitude of challenges ahead. Another objective during judging was to determine if any “course correction” was needed to help teams achieve their objectives. While EcoCAR 2 is a competition, every sponsor and organizer has the same goal – for all teams to succeed and for every student to gain the best educational experience. I feel Winter Workshop was highly successful in helping teams, organizers, and sponsors come together and align toward this goal.
A big thanks to my team (Jeff Warra, Tobias Eifler, Joe Cassar, and Vince Sabatini), who helped the teams during HIL setup days, held mentoring sessions, and provided training over the weekend. My thanks also to Freescale for co-hosting this event, and to the organizers for making it all happen! I look forward to competition in Los Angeles, and best of luck to all the teams.
I went to the EcoCAR Winter Workshop not knowing what to expect. Although I had participated in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge as a mentor for a team, most of my interactions were limited to phone conferences and e-mail. So this was the first time that I actively participated in a competitive event.
I was very impressed with the level of sophistication and competency exhibited by all of the teams with regard to their design concepts. Our mentoring sessions provided me the opportunity to meet with many teams and to hear why they selected their vehicle architectures. As I answered their questions regarding dSPACE technology, I was also able to learn a lot about the various hybrid configurations that they plan on implementing. I was impressed with how rapidly they had adopted the specialized tools used to develop embedded control systems on their RCP boxes and drive train simulation on the HIL units.
During the technology presentations, we had a lot of positive feedback and participation so it was very obvious that the teams were very adept at processing the technical information provided to them and leveraging it to their own specific use cases.
I gained a lot of encouraging experiences from the 2012 EcoCAR 2 Winter Workshop. I’m proud to be the responsible mentor for the students regarding dSPACE’s Automotive Simulation Models (ASM). Many of the control team students were exposed to dSPACE tools for the first time, and I found it fascinating and very enjoyable to see the eagerness and willingness that these students showed.
The creativity that the students revealed in working with the given tools was outstanding. During this workshop, I was especially impressed by the great understanding the students have on the benefits of HIL simulation for their control software development. It was my first visit to Texas and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s true indeed that everything is bigger in Texas.
Judging the HIL event was a very positive experience for me. Compared to the first winter workshop from EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, all of the teams in EcoCAR 2 made significantly more progress − and I was most surprised by the new teams. Colorado and Purdue won over the judges with their presentation and understanding of HIL technology they were using and its application for the competition. Another aspect that struck me was the number of teams that were bunched close together in the final analysis of the judges’ scores. The maturity, systematic approach and understanding of the technology the students have at their disposal promises to make for a very close competition.
Teamwork is the fabric of our modern day technological revolution. Developing the next electromechanical innovation takes time and a lot of effort. Managing a team takes effort, so work out your communication breakdowns and manage your time. In the end, you will excel and you will meet the challenge as a team. Teams exist for one purpose … to reach an end goal, which would not be attainable individually. Team members may stumble: It’s unavoidable. Helping one another out will only strengthen your team, because each individual is a crucial member on the team.
“The strength of the team is in each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” -Unknown Author
As an Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, it’s only natural that engineering students receive the majority of the attention from the automotive industry, the media, policy makers, fellow students and the local community. But there is another segment of each EcoCAR team that is hard at work behind the scenes promoting EcoCAR … and that group is our Outreach Teams. Without the contributions of outreach efforts, much of the work and success of the engineering teams would go unnoticed.
As an Outreach judge, I am absolutely amazed at the level of organization and accomplishments of this very special group. EcoCAR Outreach members are involved in so many aspects of promotion, from the creation of communications plans to organizing events, issuing media advisories, developing websites and social media outlets, networking on campus and off campus, educating youth and the public at large, etc. Outreach members capture the unique story of each team’s project and bring well-deserved attention to their goals, ambitions, and successes. Way to go Outreach!