As a university student, interacting with someone already in your chosen field is a rewarding experience, and last week, some EcoCAR students did just that.
Five EcoCAR teams spent the week at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) Research & Innovation Conference in Atlanta – the division of the NSF that has been a long-time sponsor of the DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, such as EcoCAR.
Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Penn State, and Missouri Science & Technology were at the conference to demonstrate the wealth of knowledge they have obtained through their experiences in EcoCAR and to display vehicles and educational exhibits to the 1,300 attendees in fields ranging from academia to industry and government. Two of the teams, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, also showcased their EcoCARs at the conference.
“The NSF supports EcoCAR because it gives young engineers an opportunity to get some hands-on, real-world experience in moving a vehicle from a stock vehicle to something far more advanced,” said Dr. Donald Senich, senior advisor of the Innovation and Industrial Partnership at NSF.
“The opportunity at the universities for a diverse group of students to build teams is extremely important in their education. NSF supports the program because it gives students such a unique and practical experience. ”
The NSF conference’s theme this year was “Engineering for Sustainability and Prosperity,” and emphasized the role civil, mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing engineers play in addressing the world’s growing challenges of using energy and natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Teams utilized the opportunity to reach out to leaders in innovation and sustainability to talk about how they are addressing those same issues through the EcoCAR competition.
“Our team spent a lot of time over the winter break working on the vehicle so that it would be ready to show at this conference,” said Rachel Dobroth, outreach coordinator for Virginia Tech. “It’s so rewarding to be able to show the vehicle to engineers and researchers in this field.”
The team leader of the Missouri S&T team, Kevin Martin, believed the NSF conference provided his team with a great opportunity to expand its outreach beyond our campus and Midwest.
“To get the opportunity to see what’s going on in the industry related to sustainability effects and see how vehicles can tie into that is great,” said Martin.
After a successful week at the NSF conference, the five teams feel proud of their accomplishments thus far, and about their experiences interacting and networking with industry leaders.
“I just enjoyed the interaction with the young people, with the individuals from General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy,” Dr. Senich said. “I think they’ve put together outstanding teams from the organizers’ side and the student side. And I feel like a member of the team.”