Virginia Tech EcoCAR 2 Faculty Advisor Elected SAE Fellow

Dr. Nelson (top) with two VT EcoCAR team members

Congratulations to Dr. Doug Nelson on his election to Fellow Grade in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)!  Dr. Nelson is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech and the Faculty Advisor for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), currently participating in EcoCAR 2.  He was selected as a Fellow based on his outstanding accomplishments to educate students and the engineering community in alternative vehicle propulsion technologies for sustainable mobility.

The nomination is well deserved as Dr. Nelson has lead student teams with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1995 with the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge.  In addition, his expertise in the field includes modeling, testing and validation of fuel cells, hybrid and electric vehicles and well-to-wheels analysis of environmental impact by vehicles and transportation fuels. In particular, he deploys his extensive experience, modeling and simulation capabilities, in component sizing and selection to meet performance and energy efficiency goals for vehicle design.

Numerous students of Dr. Nelson have been inspired by his passion for sustainable mobility and advanced technology vehicles, and have gone on to leadership roles in the automotive industry as well as at national research laboratories.

Henning Lohse-Busch, a former student of Dr. Nelson’s, said “In my career, I have met few people who are as passionate as Dr. Nelson about alternative vehicle technologies and their potential to help our society’s energy and transportation problems.  His passion is contagious and is felt by students through all of his courses and work at the university.  In addition to his research work, his largest contribution to the automotive sector is most certainly the generations of students he has taught and guided and upon whom he has instilled a passion for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.” Lohse-Busch completed his M.S. and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech under Dr. Nelson and today is a lead principal research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility.

Former student and team leader for HEVT, Patrick Walsh, said of Nelson “He is an incredibly inspiring, passionate, yet completely rational and modest hero of engineering education. His ability to take a complex system like a plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicle and break it down into terms that new students can both understand and enjoy is effortless and impressive. His contributions to educating the community on fuel economy, emissions, energy use and impact of vehicles are far-reaching, and his passion for sustainable mobility is contagious.” Walsh first met Dr. Nelson while taking his senior-level undergraduate course on advanced technology vehicles, and is now one of the key technical coordinators for AVTCs specializing in testing and analysis.

The Virginia Tech EcoCAR team at Year 3 Finals

Former graduate student and 3 year HEVT team leader Michael Ogburn commented “Dr. Nelson’s involvement in advanced vehicle technology in the classroom and in senior design projects spans 18 years, with each new year graduating another wave of energy-aware engineers with practical skills. Energy issues are rising in global importance and Dr. Nelson has helped shape the workforce of engineers who are now tackling those problems.”  Ogburn worked with Nelson to apply HEVT vehicle data to an NREL research project and went on to work on hybrids at Ford, later assisting in advising EPA on heavy duty vehicle efficiency regulations. He now works for CLEER increasing energy efficiency of buildings and fleets.

Dr. Nelson’s HEVT team recently won First Place in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge (2011) and also took home top honors in Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility (2006), and FutureCar Challenge (1996 and 1998 – tie). He is a three time winner of the National Science Foundation Outstanding AVTC Faculty Advisor Award (1998, 2005, 2009) and will be honored as an SAE Fellow in Detroit at the SAE 2012 World Congress and Exhibition in April.

We are proud of you Dr. Nelson!!