EcoCAR is Re-Engineering Engineers

ClimateWire’s Darius Dixon contributed an article to The New York Times last week entitled, “Preparing Students to Roll Off the Campus and Into Big Automotive Jobs.” The piece features EcoCAR and explores the evolution of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs), the students competing in them and their relationship with the auto industry. Not only does Dixon talk at great length about the competition, he also includes highlights from Virginia Tech and Mississippi State University in his narrative!

Dixon points out that initially, vehicle competitions aimed to advance technology and promote alternative fuels. Twenty-three years and 16,000 students later, the competitions have other emphases. EcoCAR’s own Kristen De La Rosa from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) is quoted in the article saying that there has been a shift in the emphasis of the program from designing and developing future vehicles (pre-hybrid market) to an emphasis on providing the most real-world educational experience for the future leaders of the auto industry.

Teaching this type of systems-level thinking and skills, while emphasizing hands-on learning and real-world applications, presents another major set of AVTC benefits – opportunities for students to make an almost seamless transition into careers in the auto industry and related fields. Close relationships with General Motors (GM), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), ANL and other industry heavy-hitters have an influence on the EcoCAR experience – an admittedly good one according to Virginia Tech’s EcoCAR co-team leader, Lynn Gantt, who is quoted as saying, “Who wouldn’t want their industry involved in their education? Just about everyone among the team and sub-team leaders has a job offer from industry.”

How has EcoCAR or other AVTCs prepared you for the real world? Please share your comments, we’d love to hear from you!

For a deeper view into how EcoCAR students have gone on to work for companies like GM, DOE and ANL, check out: Life After EcoCAR: Jim Motavalli Examines Recruiting and Future Careers for Students, an Inside the Green Garage post featuring insights from auto journalist and EcoCAR enthusiast, Jim Motavalli.