Mississippi State Tackles the Challenging Process of Electrical Work

dSPACE systems in MSU’s vehicle

The Mississippi State University EcoCAR 2 electrical team worked relentlessly to wire its car in Year Two. It was a long and challenging process, but with some valuable insight from controls team leader Jon Moore, the car took shape. This three man team of Blake Brown, Lee Sargent and Hagan Walker completed the electrical work, and it would be a surprise to any onlooker that none of these invaluable team members had previously wired an automotive electrical system.

The team decided to use the engine out of a Chevrolet Cruze, the transmission out of a GMC Terrain and a custom chain drive system. All of these important mechanical parts are controlled by a dSPACE MicroAutoBox and RapidPro. The integration of the mechanical and software halves of the car was implemented largely through the electrical team’s wiring and electronics. This meant that the team needed to create custom wiring harnesses and new circuits to make these devices interface properly. A great example is the engine bay’s new 12 volt bus bar, which the team sees as an improvement to the previous design because it allows for an engineer to replace fuses as necessary without replacing the whole bus bar. Additionally, this allowed the team to provide power to more devices in the engine bay while maintaining some of the factory engine styling.

With electronics that would make Pimp My Ride jealous, the electrical engineering team got its first foray into mechanical engineering by building ridged structures to support controls and charging systems. These mounts needed to support the Rapid Pro, MicroAutoBox, APM, Charger and necessary support electronics. The carbon-fiber structures also needed to provide sufficient cable management for the dozens of wires running to these systems. This team has created a structurally sound container that is ergonomically hidden in the trunk of the Malibu.