Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team, overall winners of Year Two of the North American engineering competition EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future will host President Eric Barron at a special send-off reception for the team from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, May 22, at the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle garage, adjacent to the Larson Institute’ s administrative center at 201 Transportation Research Building.
Beginning June 1, the team will compete in more than a dozen dynamic and static events over 12 days in Milford, Mich., and Washington, D.C., in the culminating edition of the three-year EcoCAR 2 contest.
Barron will be chauffeured to the reception event by members of the team in the Penn State competition vehicle. The event is free and open to the general public.
EcoCAR 2 is a three-year collegiate competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. Teams of student engineers representing 15 North American universities are charged with redesigning and re-engineering a GM-donated 2013 Chevrolet Malibu into a unique hybrid that increases gas mileage, decreases emissions and maintains consumer acceptability.
More than 50 undergraduate and graduate students from the colleges of engineering, business and communications have collaborated this year to bring the team this far.
“This year’s competition is totally different,” said Penn State’s overall team leader, Chris Golecki, a graduate student in mechanical engineering. “We focused on bringing the vehicle to the next level, including implementing completely new control strategies, designing new systems to reduce weight and fine tuning drive qualities that consumers want in a vehicle.”
During year one, students designed advanced propulsion technologies to incorporate into their vehicle in years two and three. In the second year, Penn State team members received their competition vehicle, removed stock parts and implemented the components they designed into an ethanol (E85) plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
At the Year Two competition, the Penn State team earned top honors in several individual events, including fastest autocross time, best communications plan, best media report, best acceleration (zero to 60 and 50 to 70 miles per hour), best braking (from 60 to zero miles per hour), best dynamic consumer acceptability and best AVL drive quality, a measure of how nice the car feels based on microphones and other sensors.
For this culminating Year Three of the competition, teams had the opportunity to refine their vehicles into near-production prototype vehicles. Vehicles were expected to meet or exceed a 65 percent standard for consumer acceptability in year two, said Golecki, and pursue a 99 percent level for the third and final year of EcoCAR 2.
More details and a schedule of key competition events are available at the EcoCAR 2 website, www.ecocar2.org.