How did OSU get involved in EcoCAR?
OSU has been a participant in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) competitions such as FutureCAR, FutureTruck and ChallengeX since 1992. Most recently, our biodiesel, parallel-through-the-road hybrid electric vehicle placed 3rd in the final year of Challenge X, along with multiple awards including the MathWorks: Crossover to Model-Based Design Award. In addition, the OSU team placed a significant emphasis on marketing and outreach efforts in Challenge X, paving the way for further sophistication of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions through the increased Business and Outreach focuses in the EcoCAR Challenge Competition.
Our EcoCAR team is housed at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) along with four other student automotive competition projects. Research at CAR today involves programs in HEV control systems, advanced batteries, PHEV concepts and other related concepts, with the strongest research emphasis being hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles, and advanced propulsion systems. Over the past 12 years, OSU has built a world-class research and educational program focused on the future of automotive transportation. OSU’s participation in the original FutureCAR competition provided the initial spark toward the development of unique capabilities. OSU’s selection as a DOE Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) school in 1998, and again in 2005 has also made it possible to extend the environment created by the AVTC program to include graduate education. Today OSU is proud to offer a state-of-the-art curriculum in advanced automotive technology at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
To what do we attribute this year’s success?
The key to our success this year has been developing a well-rounded team that works together effectively and builds off of each others’ strengths. This began by recruiting dedicated students willing to consistently reach above and beyond, and then placing them into key roles within the team.
For each major project, we had 1-2 student members who “owned” and became the “experts” for the project. But we also had other members involved to an extent of knowing enough of what was going on to be able to discuss the various projects. For example, two of our team members were our Hardware-in-the-Loop “experts” but 3-4 others knew what was going on with the project, and even more members were able to at least explain the HIL methodology and our team’s control strategy. This was effective because our team members communicated frequently to ensure that their part of the project wouldn’t interfere with others. This method of knowledge-sharing also benefitted our reports. Since the team members involved in the writing had a working understanding of the various aspects of the project, they were able to write substantial and relevant documentation that fit with the parts written by other members, making our reports technically strong and well-organized.
Another main factor in our success was our continued effort to link the Business and Engineering segments of our team. It was helpful to have people with technical background to either manage or be in close communication with the Business/Outreach leaders to ensure our marketing and outreach efforts accurately portrayed our technical information. Having a core Business team that worked cross-functionally with technical students proved especially successful for the Trade Show Display and the Technical Success Story in Year 1.
Other critical aspects to our success included the support of our advisors and mentors as well as collaboration with competition and local sponsors. Sponsor support from dSPACE, the MathWorks, Argonne National Laboratory, and GM really helped us to sort out the hurdles of our Year 1 design before the end-of-year competition. It was very valuable for us to include our sponsors throughout the year, beginning with the planning stages, to ensure that we made the best possible use of the equipment, software, and time that we had available. We can’t stress enough the importance of frequently asking questions and taking the advice of the experts who offer their time and effort to support our designs.
A final contributor to our success was paying close attention to the deliverables requested by the competition, keeping track of deadlines, and planning ahead.
Thanks for reading! Keep up with our team during Year 2 at http://ecocar.osu.edu!