EcoCAR Students Spend the Summer Working at Argonne National Laboratory

At the end of the spring semester and after the Year Two Finals, two EcoCAR students – Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech, and Dana Bubonovich, former Outreach Coordinator for Penn State – ventured to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to start their summer internships.

Patrick was hired as a Research Aide at Argonne’s Transportation Technology Research & Development Center (TTRDC). Throughout the summer, he worked on testing activities at the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF).

Patrick working on dyno testing in the lab at Argonne

“The group I am working with is responsible for testing and benchmarking advanced technology vehicles and powertrains,” he said. “The specific project I am working on involves comparing a third generation vehicle drive train to that of a second generation.”

Patrick uses a dynamometer to do a majority of his benchmark testing. The dynamometer has road load capabilities, environmental simulation capability and a comprehensive emissions bench among other features. When fully instrumented, vehicles can be analyzed by researchers in order to determine factors like drive cycle fuel economy and energy use, hybrid operating strategy, thermal effects of drive cycles or environmental conditions and powertrain efficiency. Patrick says the ultimate goal of the research is to determine where the vehicle’s comprehensive update achieved differences in efficiency.

So how will this internship help with his work as co-team leader for the Virginia Tech team?

“At Argonne, the researchers can study almost anything they want, as long as it is justified and funded. I’ll apply much of what I have learned at Argonne to refining the HEVT competition vehicle in Year Three of EcoCAR as well as my future career, which will definitely involve automobiles.”

Dana at a Clean Cities Propane Workshop with former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka

While Patrick was busy working on benchmark testing, Dana Bubonovich spent her time on advanced vehicle technology competitions and EcoCAR. She coordinated the Clean Cities University Internship Program and helped with a broad range of tasks for EcoCAR, including writing posts for this blog. Her primary role was to create professional development opportunities for the Clean Cities interns, maintain communication between the Coalitions and ensure the interns understood the importance of the Clean Cities program. “I’ve been able to utilize my experience with public relations, event planning and social media to create webinars for the interns to learn from,” said Dana. “Most of the interns are in the environmental science field so they really benefited from these webinars.”

She also had the opportunity to sit in on a variety of planning meetings for Year Three of EcoCAR. “It was a unique experience being an organizer rather than a student. When it comes to planning everything from rules to deliverables, it’s a totally different point of view when you’re an organizer.”

What’s next for Patrick and Dana? Patrick returns to Virginia Tech, resuming his role as co-team leader for the VT EcoCAR team. Despite the end of her ANL internship, Dana will continue working for Argonne and join the rest of the AVTC team as a Communications and Logistics Coordinator for EcoCAR. Her work will continue to focus on the Clean Cities program, as well as outreach, logistics and other public relations tasks for the EcoCAR program.