EcoCAR 3 at Ohio State in competitive mode

Posted: May 19, 2016

Written on a whiteboard inside The Ohio State University’s EcoCAR 3 student headquarters is Year Three team leader Andrew Huster’s simple to-do list for the summer: “Build the car. Win. Eat ice cream.” 

One down, two to go. 
Huster, an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) graduate student, said the car is shipped and ready for the Year Two Finals competition being held throughout the week in Yuma Arizona at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground.

For those unfamiliar, EcoCAR 3 is the latest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) series sponsored by General Motors and managed by the Argonne National Laboratory. The program is considered the ultimate training ground for building future automotiveleaders. It challenges 16 North American university teams to redesign a Chevrolet Camaro, ultimately reducing its environmental impact and increasing its efficiency, while maintaining the muscle and performance style. Teams have four years (2014-2018) to harness their ideas into the ultimate energy-efficient, high performance vehicle. 

Andrew Huster

Ohio State’s crew of student engineers won the Year Three of EcoCAR 2 last year and now have hopes for repeating that success.
The month of May is when things kick back into gear for EcoCAR 3. The Ohio State team flew off to Yuma on Sunday to join up with their vehicle and start the competition. Throughout the week, their Camaro will undergo various safety and technical inspections to qualify for on road testing.
Huster said the teams are evaluated on their vehicle’s overall dynamic safety, handling, and energy consumption in various events. 
After that, they are off to San Diego for the second stage of the competition, as teams give over a dozen technical, communications and project management presentations about their work to judges from within the program and the automotive industry at large.
By the end of the month, the EcoCAR 3 Year Two winner is declared.
Over the past five years, Huster has worked his way up from building electronics to becoming team leader. Next year, however, he will graduate from Ohio State and move on to the real world.
“I’m getting wistful,” he said. “It’s been fun. There are a lot of really great people on the team.”

The entire experience has taught him not only how to manage complex projects, but work well as part of a team.
“It’s those soft skills that you only acquire by doing,” he said.
The turnaround for re-engineering this year’s Camaro was a bit daunting compared to previous years, he said. Teams began work in February, leaving just three months for disassembling the existing powertrain and integrating their hybrid-electric designs into a wholly unique version of the car. The new enhancements have helped boost the performance and efficiency of the vehicle, while also increasing its speed and power.
Huster said finding room for improvement in today’s modern automotive engineering world is the real challenge. 
“Electrical engineering is where the innovation is coming from,” he said. “Now, it’s all in the software.”
The Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State is also planning to create a new automotive electronics lab to help further prepare students for leadership roles within the industry.

EcoCAR 3 Team website:
• EcoCAR 3 Team Leader Andrew Huster at or (513) 615-8944
• EcoCAR 3 Communications Manager Trevor Thompkins
• ECE Public Relations Coordinator Ryan Horns or (614) 688-1420