Guest post by Trevor Crain, UW engineering student and Environmental Innovation Challenge winner
The Voltaic team is finishing up its sixth month of participation in the US Department of Energy and General Motors-sponsored EcoCAR2 competition. It’s been a wild ride!
There’s been some really excellent work done the last few months as we tackle difficult automotive engineering challenges. We’ve considered a myriad of complex plug-in hybrid vehicle architectures for our Chevy Malibu along with all the drivetrain components required for each, simulated the performance of each of those configurations and selected the ideal vehicle design for our team down to every major drivetrain component. We also began work on the system for the vehicle that monitors and controls most of the systems of the hybrid vehicle.
And while we’re doing all of this, we were building a research lab from scratch from four to more than 40 members, and traveling to Detroit five times for training from the competition sponsors. We haven’t had too much free time, but seeing our vehicle and program start taking shape makes it all worthwhile. And we get the amazing opportunity to work with real automotive companies to develop a production-level hybrid prototype, while helping train our team’s engineers to make the vehicles of the future.
This unforgettable experience of being in EcoCAR2 started when we competed in and won the Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) last year. The relationships we built during the EIC, both with faculty and team members helped us get where we are today. One of our faculty advisors, University of Washington Professor Per Reinhall first alerted us to EcoCAR2. Along with UW Professor Brian Fabien, he’s continuing to help our team succeed. Rich Wurden, Kerwin Loukusa and Trevor Fayer, members from the Voltaic EIC project team, are team leaders now and doing a great job.
Overall, we’re having an awesome time on the design process. We can’t wait to get our vehicle running!
Read the Seattle Times article on UW team’s progress in the national car-design competition. Learn how the UW Foster School of Business Environmental Innovation Challenge helps new ventures seed a greener economy.