Purdue Finds Humor in the Battle to Meet Deadlines

A humorous account of meeting deadlines by the Purdue EcoMakers’ Controls lead, Ashish Vora:

Sometimes competition deadlines aren’t the only ones EcoCAR 2 teams have to face. While perfecting its vehicle design, the EcoMakers’ Controls team had to crank up decibel levels of music and caffeine consumption, as we scrambled to beat the expiration of a gasoline engine model license from dSPACE.

So how did this situation arise? In all our mighty pride, while we were all focused on trying to model our parallel-through-the-road drivetrain on the dSPACE ASM structure, we had conveniently ignored the fact that all our work was being done on the gasoline engine vehicle model, while our vehicle will have a diesel engine running on B20.

When we realized that we better switch to the diesel engine with only three or four days to go before the license expired, we found out that it wasn’t quite as easy as we had assumed. The model defied all of our attempts at generating the torque we wanted from it! Yi Zhu and Minyu Cai, our plant modeling leads, were spotted walking around with bloodshot eyes, muttering incoherently in Chinese all the while, and an advisory was sent out to the team to avoid any attempts at merry conversation with them.

What turned the tide finally was the god-like intervention of dSPACE, who set up a web conference within 24 hours of receiving our SOS email! In one hour, Tobias Eifler and Kunal Patil had effortlessly scrutinized our model and pointed out a significant variable that we had overlooked and set us on the path to righteous simulation! Needless to say, Yi and Minyu, having been shown the error of their ways, added another night of loud music, caffeine and sleep deprivation for good measure, and emerged triumphant and wiser, if maybe slightly scarred for life with an inexplicable and incurable addiction to Simulink blocks.

Thus was the EcoMakers plant model simulated on blood, sweat and tears.