Summer Spotlights: Penn State Looks Back at Year Two and Ahead to Year Three

When the Penn State EcoCAR team arrived in Pennsylvania after the Year Two competition and settled into summer mode, they focused on three priorities for June, July and August. In addition to evaluating their Year Two results and planning for Year Three, the team had to clean and organize the garage and labs. While spending hours going through boxes and cleaning top to bottom, the team came across a few items that brought back memories and served as a friendly reminder of Year Two.

The team found safety glasses in every nook and cranny of their workspace. The glasses reminded them that no matter how engrossed they are in their work, safety is always number one at Penn State, whether in the garage or at competition. In fact, the team members who went to competition placed in the top six for performing the “Safety Dance” on skit night, a performance complete with bright orange safety vests, hard hats and even the running-man dance!

When walking into the garage, a barely visible car bench seat, about as long as a small couch, peeks out from behind a corner. No one would understand the importance of the seat like the team members who pulled all-nighters working in the garage. The seat is a token of the long hours the team puts in during the wee hours of the morning, displaying diligence and perseverance. Outreach Coordinator, Dana Bubonovich, even pulled an all-nighter to show support for the late night regulars!

An all-nighter in the garage!

The team also found an extendable magnet in a bin from competition. The magnet is tiny, but important tool that reminds them of how they faced adversity in a tense situation and overcame it. Penn State was on the cusp of being the first team to pass safety/tech inspection in Yuma, when a team member accidentally dropped a tiny washer into the power inverter module. It took the team six hours and several clever inventions to retrieve the washer, including a Shop-Vac, zip ties, a Borescope, duct tape and LED lights, and a variety of magnets. GM supervisor, Tom Garcia, eventually fetched the washer with a claw, and the team is forever grateful for his help.

PSU team member, Marty Lechner, using the extendable magnet to get to the washer

Sitting on the back wall of the Penn State garage is a mill, often overlooked except for when it needs to be used. The mill is an icon of all the time and labor that goes into building the vehicle. The mill created mounts that hold essential components in place, so the team’s EcoCAR can drive smoothly. It is a reminder of the tedious focus needed to build a car because of the constant realization that one small error could cause a detrimental fault in the vehicle. Mounts created on the mill keeps the vehicle in tact, much like teamwork and dedication holds the Penn State team together to accomplish its goals.

While organizing the labs, the team discovered a couple LiveGreen bracelets lying around from its outreach influencer campaign. The keepsakes continue to remind the team that the EcoCAR competition has an end goal to reduce emissions, resulting in a greener earth for future generations. The bracelets are a symbol of reaching out to the public to proudly display what the EcoCAR competition is all about: green technologies and a clean environment.

The Nittany Lion showing off the LiveGreen bracelet!

One thing that is still on the team’s mind is the air conditioner compressor that they couldn’t quite finish at competition; not only because of the hot summer temperatures, but because it is a reminder of the work to come in Year Three. In the final year of the EcoCAR competition, the Penn State team will have new faces mixed with veterans, and will be prepared for obstacles, long nights and, of course, fun. The team has regrouped, reorganized and planned for Year Three by setting new goals and deadlines. The first item they will tackle is the air conditioner, and Mother Nature will make sure the first goal is soon accomplished!

The Penn State team is looking forward to the new challenges and memories of Year Three and will never forget the great accomplishments of Years One and Two!