MSU’s EcoCAR: Before, During and After Inspection

It’s March Madness and that means, yes, it’s Safety/Tech Inspection time during EcoCAR. The first school to get inspected was Mississippi State University. Read their before and after story below to get a flavor of the MSU team’s intense preparation for inspection. Will they pass inspection and qualify for this year’s EcoCAR Competition? Read and watch the video below to see for yourself…

My name is Matt Doude and I am the team leader for the Mississippi State EcoCAR team. We recently had the distinction of being the calibration school for the EcoCAR on-site technical inspections that are going on this month. That means that Steven Boyd, Michael Wahlstrom, Frank Falcone, and Nicole Lambiase from the U.S. Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory all came down to sunny Mississippi to inspect our vehicle FIRST as well as to practice and streamline their inspection routine. They will be splitting up and going all over North America to inspect the other 15 teams as we get ready to ship our vehicles to the Year 2 Competition in Yuma, AZ (another place known for being sunny and warm.)

Leading up to the inspection, our team worked night and day to finish little tasks and get everything ready to go. Check out our video below, shot just 48 hours before our inspection to see our preparations:

One of the biggest projects during preparation was getting our A123Systems battery pack built and mounted in the car. The battery pack, along with everything else we’ve added to the car, could not possibly be a tighter fit. Our new oft-repeated team motto has become “It’s gonna be tight…”

Working right up until the organizers arrived, however, we got everything in the car and hooked up just in time for our inspection.

The moment of truth came at the end of the inspection when we put the car on the ground and turned it on. Brian Benoy, our controls leader, shifted into reverse and smoothly backed out of the garage. The car, running in EV mode, made literally no sound as it moved. He took several people for a short ride in the parking lot and back to the garage, where it glided back in as smoothly as it left. Watch the video below to see our vehicle run on its own power!

About 48 hours after our inspection, the car was back in pieces all over the shop again as we made changes and continued to build our competition vehicle. I’m looking forward to the day when it’s together and doesn’t have to come apart again!