Tom Goddette graduated from Mississippi State University (MSU) in 2013 after being involved with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) for five years, where he was able to work on the EcoCAR 1 and EcoCAR 2 series. MSU’s team caught back up with him after his move to Michigan to begin his career at AVL Powertrain Engineering. He offered words of advice and said what he sees in the future for AVTCs.
Q: What was your position on the Mississippi State team?
A: I didn’t really have a traditional position on the team. I was an undergrad/graduate student in mechanical engineering so I helped physically build the car but I also helped design the battery and work on the electrical systems. At the same time I was one of the engineers that really enjoyed participating in outreach events, so I really tried to go to as many events as I could, helping to promote the team and EcoCAR.
Q: What was your favorite experience while on the MSU EcoCAR 2 Team?
A: It is hard to pick one favorite experience. Competition each year is always a great time. Not only do you get to compete with a car that you have been working on for a least a year (sometimes longer), you also get to see all the other teams hard work.
Q: What did you learn by being a part of the MSU EcoCAR 2 Team?
A: EcoCAR is a major project, especially since it is a completely student run project. One of the best things that I took away from EcoCAR was the need for planning and preparing before doing anything. There is so much that has to be completed at each stage of EcoCAR and everyone on the team, engineering and non-engineering majors both, have to come together and work if the team is going to do well.
Q: What is your role at AVL?
A: I am currently a project engineer in the design group. I work in multiple CAD packages designing engine components and systems for AVL clients.
Q: How did EcoCAR 2 help prepare you for your role at AVL?
A: EcoCAR was a great learning experience that directly correlates to the work that I do now. In EcoCAR we design a hybrid vehicle powertrain from the ground up. We had to worry about the same things that I have to worry about now; space, weight, safety, maintenance, and costs all come into play and have to be considered.
Q: What advice do you have for new EcoCAR team members?
A: Don’t waste any time! Just because you are new on the team doesn’t mean that you can’t get things done. There is ALWAYS something that you can be helping with and it doesn’t always require intimate knowledge of your teams EcoCAR or cars in general.
Q: What do you see in the future for AVTCs?
A: I really hope to see more advanced vehicle architecture coming out of the next few competitions. The software and hardware that is donated by the sponsors is definitely capable of simulating some advanced stuff and I would really love to see a school come up with something that blows everyone away.
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