Five Things I Learned from Traveling with My EcoCAR Team: Lessons from Ohio State’s trip to Winter Workshop

The familiar phrase, “you’re only as good as the company you keep,” can take on a whole new meaning when you travel. Thinking back on my recent trip to Winter Workshop in Austin, Texas with the Ohio State EcoCAR team, I realized that a trip is only as fun as the company you bring. Fortunately for me, my team of Buckeyes made great travel companions and this is a trip that I will remember for a long time. Here are five things I learned while on the trip:

1. It is impossible for 11 people to make it through airport security without attracting extra screening.

When traveling gets the best of you

Sometimes it is a full water bottle, other times it is a bag full of wire harnesses and processors for a Hardware in the Loop presentation. Whatever the case, someone is bound for a pat-down. Ohio State’s most troublesome contraband? Specialty peanut butter.

2. You better have thick skin if you want to hang with this crowd.



Sarcasm among teammates reached an all-time high four days into the trip. Packing a sense of humor is key. If we make fun of you, we like you. You can sit with us.

3. Some engineers can be VERY social.


Stereotype shattered! We were always talking, either in person or through group instant messages. Our favorite language? DJ Khaled inspirational quotes (“You smart! You loyal!” “Another one.” “Don’t play yourself.”). Second favorite? Repeating poorly pronounced GPS street names. When we weren’t busy learning from EcoCAR sponsors, the team took full advantage of everything Austin had to offer, from mouth-watering BBQ, great live music and the best breakfast tacos, to riding a mechanical bull.

4. Team roles change quickly.

Our engineering manager, exhausted from traveling, proclaimed herself as communications manager when describing her role as the controls lead. A witty electrical lead became “King of the Twitter.” I was briefly fired before winning the title of faculty advisor, including a Ph.D., as part of a ping-pong showdown. Sorry, Dr. Shawn…or “Regular Shawn” as he is now known.

5. The support of your team means everything.


While supporting each other in presentations, sharing stories with younger students during the outreach day, and flying on early mornings and late nights, our team grew closer together. Unity and the common goal of achieving team success in year two will serve as motivation for hard work leading up to competition. The team not only played hard, but worked hard in Austin. Instructional presentations given by some of EcoCAR 3’s terrific sponsors included lessons that will help at competition and beyond.

When I think about our next trip for Year Two competition, my excitement can only be described in words from the great DJ Khaled: Another one!


Written By: Trevor Thompkins