Focus on the Future at EcoCAR’s Spring Workshop

With teams starting the second week of the Year Three Spring Workshop, a vision of what the future – or at least the competition finals – may hold for EcoCAR students is beginning to take shape.  Over the past few days the students have soaked up lessons learned from inspections, testing, and presentations by organizers and sponsors, and are feeling well-equipped to make the final adjustments to their advanced technology vehicles and outreach campaigns.

The weekend was packed full of activities for the students. In addition to getting some real-world experience with test procedures, students attended workshop presentations on specific hardware components, the upcoming competition finals, and even got some advice from competition veterans, such as Wisconsin’s faculty advisors Glenn Bower and Shawn Midlam-Mohler, who have both been part of advanced vehicle competitions for more than a decade. Teams also go to hear an exciting review of the inner workings of the Chevrolet Volt.

Team Outreach Coordinators were also busy at the Spring Workshop. Just like the vehicles, Outreach Coordinators were put to the test when they gave scored presentations of a sponsor success story, submitting a paper and a poster on a learning experience the team had received through the help of a sponsor.

But it hasn’t been all work and no play – student’s enjoyed last week’s Sponsor Social, where they had the opportunity to network with EcoCAR sponsors, who in recent years have hired many competition graduates.

Mike Carlson of Wisconsin talks to a dSPACE recruiter

“I was surprised to see so many sponsors at the sponsor social,” said University of Victoria Team Leader Jeff Waldner. “You can really tell they are interested in hiring EcoCAR students and are excited to see that so many students are interested to work in the automotive industry.”

Texas Tech team members talk with a Snap-on Representative

Several awards were given out at the Spring Workshop Sponsor Social as well. Woodward announced the first and second place teams for their MotorHawk Video Award with Ohio State University taking first place and the University of Waterloo coming in second place. Other awards included recognizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all of their work with the Spring Workshop and awarding Henning Lohse-Busch, Argonne National Laboratory, and Tom Schrodt, U.S. EPA, with the EPA Outstanding Researcher Award.

EcoCAR also recognized all the hard work that the engineering GRAs and outreach coordinators have put into the competition, with two separate dinners on Saturday and Sunday nights. The dinners were a time to acknowledge the value that the students have added to the competition.

“The outreach dinner was a blast,” said UOIT Outreach Coordinator Lesley McLelland. “The opportunity to spend time with competition organizers and sponsor representatives is hugely valuable and quite a privilege. In the end, that’s what the competition is about – real-world experience and building industry connections.”

With just a few days of vehicle dyno testing left, students are already gearing up for the final competition, and are eager to get home to fine-tune their vehicles.