The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University EcoEagles had the tremendous opportunity to attend the Rolex 24, a 24-hour endurance race at the Daytona International Speedway. For four days (January 23 – 26), the EcoEagles could be found in two hubs at the race: The Sprint FANZONE located in the infield and the Department of Energy (DOE) Green Racing Simulator located on the perimeter of the track.
The EcoEagles found many new fans at the Rolex 24. These included not only those that had come to see the race, but also some important local business people and dignitaries. The DOE Green Racing Simulator sent many new fans into the center of the field to meet with the EcoEagles. Several people from the Department of Energy (DOE) also stopped by the booth to see what the EcoEagles have accomplished so far in the final semester of the three-year EcoCAR 2 competition, including Mike Carr, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Patrick Davis, Director of the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office; and Lee Slezak, Technology Manager of the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office. They were all very happy to hear that the vehicle can drive under its own powerand enjoyed seeing the vehicle’s daily one hour of test drives.
Amy Monahan, a member the Volusia County School Board, is in charge of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education for middle school students in the county. She visited the EcoEagles and their car to see if the team was interested in talking to local schools about participating in a university-based competition that focused heavily on STEM education. The team was more than thrilled by the opportunity. In addition, Joanne Ivancic, the Executive Director of Advanced Biofuels USA, came by and was very interested in the hybrid architecture and biofuel used in the EcoEagles’ vehicle. Other notable people included a teacher from Tennessee who was looking for advice on how to promote college-level automotive education and an electrical engineer who was curious about the car’s batteries, cell structure, and voltage.
While visiting with the race fans, the EcoEagles team members talked about on many different capabilities of the car – one being its 0 to 60 acceleration, which is faster than a standard gasoline-powered vehicle. Team members also discussed the statistics about previous competition years that say 75% of students who dedicate time to the EcoCAR 2 competition receive employment right out of college from top organizations in the automotive field such as General Motors, dSPACE, and Argonne National Labs.
From Thursday evening when the team pulled the car into the FANZONE to Sunday afternoon when they packed the car up to tow it back to the Green Garage, attending the Rolex 24 was a huge success for the EcoEagles team. The EcoEagles continue to work towards their competition and team goals and are working on having a fully functional vehicle for the Year Three competition.
The EcoEagles will be attending the 2014 Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway from February 20 – 23. This will give another great opportunity to spread the message of the EcoCAR 2 competition, and is also being leveraged as a motivator for the entire team. The EcoEagles will be located in the Sprint FANZONE again, so please stop by if you are in the area.