General Motors Helps N.C. State Students Develop New Electric Vehicle Technology

Some students at North Carolina State University are plugging into the future and designing new electric drive vehicle technology. The U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors are the driving forces in developing the next generation of scientists and engineers, all through the EcoCAR 2 competition.

“It’s a three-year automotive technology competition between 15 universities, and it is to see who can build the best team… pretty much like a small business,” said N.C. State junior John-Paul Overton.

These students are the next generation of automotive engineers, as well as business and communication professionals. Graduate student and team leader Jason Markijohn said that with the help of GM, the team is provided with the tools to design advanced vehicle technologies

“GM provided us the car and gave us a check for $25,000 to get started for buying parts, tools and anything else we may need that aren’t provided by other sponsors,” said Markijohn.

These donated tools promote energy conservation and carry the 15 teams on the road to success.

“You can do as much simulation and design until your hand gets tired and falls off and you are not going to really know how it’s going to work until you get it into the car,” said Markijohn. The N.C. State team is investing plans into a Chevy Malibu, as well as future careers.

“GM hires a lot of engineers out of this competition…this is kind of a funnel to GM because they are giving you that hands-on training that no one else gives you,” said Overton.

At the midpoint in the competition, the team has removed the Chevy Malibu’s stock engine and they are working on their own design to install a power-train. This makes the vehicle more fuel efficient, while retaining consumer acceptability, performance and safety. Being exposed to these world-class organizations is something team adviser Dr. Eric Klang said leads to future job success.

“We’ve had students that have been hired by GM and other schools as well. The ‘big carrot’ is employment and these students will get job offers, generally speaking,” said Klang. As these students are establishing a more sustainable future for all, they are also gaining courage and experience for the long road, or career path ahead.