Where Are They Now? RHIT’s Laura Nash

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT’05) alumnus Laura Nash was a senior contributing member of the 2005 Challenge X team. Laura served as the battery research team leader as the team worked to select a split train hybrid electric vehicle architecture for the first year of the competition.

After graduating and working in industry, Laura has returned to RHIT for graduate school and joined the second year of the EcoCAR 2 competition. Since graduation occurred at the end of Challenge-X year 1, Laura never got to implement the design the team had worked so hard to create. So, when the opportunity arose for Laura to be a graduate assistant for the design implementation year of RHIT EcoCAR2, she jumped at the opportunity.

As the Energy Storage System (ESS) team lead, Laura has led the FEA analysis, design, and manufacturing of the ESS components. She also works closely with the mechanical team in the manufacturing of parts and the removal and installation of components. “My favorite part is being in the shop fabricating parts, integrating different components and otherwise getting my hands dirty, as I greatly enjoy learning new skills and increasing my proficiency with automotive systems.”

When comparing Challenge X to EcoCAR 2, it is evident that RHIT has gained a significant amount of in-house knowledge of electric vehicles (EV) and learned from the challenges encountered with Challenge X. “Challenge X had a larger research component because it was RHIT’s rookie year in EV competitions so everything we were doing had never been researched, attempted, or documented before,” Laura recalls. Perhaps it was the high ambition to excel mixed with past competition experience, that led Rose-Hulman to select a split train hybrid electric vehicle architecture, which can be very difficult to control and integrate in the vehicle. The RHIT EcoCAR will feature a split parallel PHEV architecture.

According to Laura, “the main difference with EcoCAR 2 is that the team is able to utilize knowledge and systems learned from previous competitions to make better decisions about vehicle architecture, component design, and implementation.”  Laura has brought back a tremendous amount of real-world knowledge and experience and the RHIT team is grateful for her return.