Interview with an EcoCAR 3 Acceleration Judge

We spoke with Nelson Wallace, who is a co-event captain and a judge for the Acceleration event this week at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma.

What is your job when you aren’t judging EcoCAR?

I’m a test engineer and run durability schedules for specific vehicles for General Motors. I’m in charge of the entire testing for a particular vehicle, and when the vehicle has problems, I do a root analysis to solve the issue and keep them running.

EcoCAR 3 Year 4 Competition

Describe the acceleration event that students are tested on?

There are two parts, 0-60 acceleration, which is the initial acceleration and what sports cars are usually benchmarked on. Then there is the 50-70 acceleration, which in the real world is usually referred to as the “passing accelerations rate.”  The 0-60 event is being held here this week, and the 50-70 event will be held next week at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontanta, CA.

What is the most challenging part of acceleration event for the students?

I’d say it’s making sure the vehicles operate as intended and making sure your car is up to the job.

EcoCAR 3 Year 4 Competition

What have you seen so far from the teams?

It was great to see them all here and running. One team that I saw yesterday had different drive modes in their car, so it was neat to see that working. They ran the acceleration event in one mode, and then switched to a sport mode which perked the car up quite a bit and they were able to get a better score.

Why do you enjoy being an EcoCAR event judge?

I like seeing the technology demonstrated. We are seeing where the future of cars are going, in the real world we see more and more fuel-efficient vehicles around, and this competition creates those vehicles but also keeps performance. I am really looking forward to seeing how the teams do in the next stages of the competition!