|January 31, 2012||Posted by Kim.Tootle under Video Post, Year One Posts|
|April 22, 2013||Posted by Claire under Uncategorized|
Michael Barr, a Mississippi State Challenge X and EcoCAR alum, is now a Systems Engineer at AVL Powertrain Engineering. He got involved in 2007 during Year 3 of Challenge X and continued through 2011 with Year 3 of EcoCAR. Michael was involved with MSU’s mechanical group and served as Mechanical/Powertrain Group Leader during his time with the team.
While on the team, he developed his passions and that is when he realized what he wanted to do with his life career-wise.
“After I got involved with Challenge X I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Michael said. He now serves different roles within his profession such as functional integration of mechanical, electrical, thermodynamic, and energy storage systems within hybrid and electrical vehicle applications. Michael primarily works on the design, build, and testing of HV batteries, but is also doing controls work on vehicle applications.
Michael’s experiences with AVTCs are the reason that he has a successful career that he has a passion for. The competitions sparked his interest and evolved into something that he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing.
“I love cars, and I wanted to work in the automotive industry. I knew the AVTC program could get me this and that’s why I got involved. I loved the entire experience (except maybe a few of the overnighters) and what I do now at AVL is very similar to everything that I did in Challenge X and EcoCAR. I love what I do and wouldn’t change anything.”
Michael learned a lot from the experiences that the AVTCs brought him but one piece of advice that still sticks with him to this day is to have a good work ethic.
“If you work hard and have dedication you can do anything. Get involved, work hard, do your best, and WIN!”
|April 15, 2013||Posted by Claire under Uncategorized|
The Mississippi State University EcoCAR 2 electrical team has been working relentlessly wiring the car. While there are a few kinks that need to be worked out, the electrical systems are letting this car “Cruze” around. It has been a long and challenging process, but with some valuable insight from the team’s controls team leader, Jon Moore, this car has taken shape. This three man team of Blake Brown, Lee Sargent and Hagan Walker has completed the electrical work necessary for this car to compete and it would be a surprise to any onlooker that none of these invaluable team members had previously wired an automotive electrical system.
This team decided to use the engine out of a Chevrolet Cruze, the transmission out of a GMC Terrain, and a custom chain drive system. All of these important mechanical parts are then controlled by a dSPACE MicroAutoBox and RapidPro. The integration of the mechanical and software halves of this car is done largely by the electrical team’s wiring and electronics. This meant that the team needed to create custom wiring harnesses and new circuits to make these devices interface properly. A great example of this is the engine bay’s new 12 volt bus bar that the team sees as an improvement to the previous design because it allows for an engineer to replace any of the fuses as necessary without replacing the whole bus bar. Additionally, this allowed the team to provide power to more devices in the engine bay while maintaining some of the factory engine styling.
With all of the electronics that would make Pimp My Ride jealous, this Electrical Engineering team got its first foray into mechanical engineering building ridged structures to support this hybrid’s controls and charging systems. These mounts needed to support the Rapid Pro, MicroAutoBox, APM, Charger and necessary support electronics. These carbon-fiber structures also needed to provide sufficient cable management for the dozens of wires running to these systems. This team has created a structurally sound container that is ergonomically hidden in the trunk of the Malibu.
|March 25, 2013||Posted by Claire under Team Member Highlight, Technical Post, Year Two Posts|
Being a freshman on a college campus already has its setbacks. However, being a freshman on the Mississippi State University EcoCar 2 team has no limitations, especially for Stephen Hayden. After only being part of the team for three months, MSU’s EcoCAR 2 leaders trusted freshman Stephen in leading the preparation of the molds for the Energy Storage System (ESS) containing high voltage components. The team also allowed him to play a crucial role in the creation of the actual ESS carbon fiber enclosure. Since he is a freshman, and new to the EcoCar 2 challenge, composite work was a brand new field for him. The only experience he had in the past with composite work was working with fiberglass.
“Though carbon fiber is similar to fiberglass, it is a completely different beast. Therefore, creating the ESS out of carbon fiber was a very long and tedious process, but an amazing learning experience,” Stephen said.
The top section of the ESS consisted of three layers of material. The first two layers placed on the ESS were fiberglass, in order to make the entire ESS dielectric. Then, a layer of carbon fiber was applied to the mold.
The bottom section of the ESS contained two layers of fiberglass. But, as opposed to one layer of carbon fiber, several were applied to the bottom section of the ESS to provide extra rigidity and strength. An area that required special attention was the center section of the ESS; an “X” of unidirectional carbon fiber weave was added to increase the torsion strength in the center.
Creating the ESS out of carbon fiber allowed the team to create a rigid, yet incredibly light, high voltage enclosure. The two sections of the ESS, the top and the bottom, weigh only a total of twenty-five pounds. Laying up carbon fiber for the ESS was a completely new experience for Stephen. Despite this, he thoroughly enjoyed learning how to work with this material.
“I feel fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful team that allows freshmen to participate in creating such key components for the vehicle. I am blessed to be able to call Mississippi State University home and be part of such a wonderful EcoCar 2 team at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.”
|March 22, 2013||Posted by Claire under Year Two Posts|
Last semester, outreach coordinators organized a trip to Petite Le Mans in Atlanta to represent the MSU EcoCAR 2 Team. Their experience was something they will not be forgetting in the near future.
With the start of the new fall semester comes the start of a new cycle in the MSU EcoCAR2 team’s race to win the national title. 2012 is no different. And with the new cycle comes new opportunities to reach out to the general public and share with them what they’re doing in Starkville.
In October, three members of the team (Rachel Wheeler, Blake Brown and John Stewart) along with staff advisor Matthew Doude and Faculty Advisor Dr. Molen Marshall took the EPA up on their invitation to attend the Petite Le Mans race just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. For three days, the team was present, along with the EcoCAR1 hybrid vehicle, to showcase their work, knowledge and perceptions of the future. In addition, they were able to witness what is, arguably, the most technologically advanced use of alternative fuel-powered cars in the world. Every car entered in the race is required to use some sort of alternative fuel (e.g. isobutynol, ethanol, etc.) and some even harnessed the power of electricity for an added boost.
“It was a car person’s dream to attend this event. We were very excited to join the EPA in showcasing ‘green’ technology and what we’ve accomplished here at Mississippi State [University]. I think, for me at least, it was the highlight of the event to be granted access to the pit area where we were able to talk with the pit crews and engineers about what it is they’re doing with the cars. The level of planning, technology and the overall teamwork that goes into these multi-million dollar cars is not only staggering to a car aficionado but it’s overwhelming to an aspiring engineer. I mean, these guys sit around in what down time they have and think up new ways to find a competitive edge. A great example is the centrifugal flywheel!” – John Stewart, Powertrain Team Leader
The centrifugal flywheel is an electric “booster” that stores up energy that the driver can use later for about an additional nine seconds worth of power. The idea has been around for a while and is currently used in locomotives on a much larger scale. However, it is just now making its way into the race and daily-driver market.
The team was well-received during the race weekend. Their expo was set up in Vendor Village alongside the EPA’s tent. People from all over the country go to Atlanta to witness one of the greatest races in this country. And some of the spectators knew who the MSU EcoCAR2 team was.
“We never had a bad question. Even when people were unfamiliar with what we do or the competition in general, once we started explaining to them what we’re doing and why, overall interest peaked. Everyone wanted to know ‘Is this what my hybrid is?’ or ‘Can I expect this level of performance in a hybrid if I buy one?’ Then there were the people that knew who we are and what we’re doing. It was their first time up close and in person with our technology. And they just ate it up. Even the skeptics were impressed with our 350 combined HP and 700 foot-pounds of torque! When we started explaining our platform for the EcoCAR2 Malibu, instantly, they were able to relate to what is now mainstream technology in cars such as the Chevy Volt .It made us feel good to see people respond so well to what we do.” — Rachel Wheeler
There’s talk about joining the EPA again for next year’s race. But that’s not the only event the team attends. You can see them at events from the east coast to the west coast, from Detroit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Be sure to check the team’s website for more information and future dates near you.
|March 15, 2013||Posted by Claire under Uncategorized|
The MSU EcoCAR 2 Team has spent countless hours at the CAVS facility while other students are enjoying sunshine and beaches on their spring break. However, that does not mean that the team cannot seek out a little SB’13 action of their own.
During the time spent working on the vehicle and preparing for regional inspections that will take place at CAVS on Wednesday, March 20th, the guys made the facility into their own mini-vacation. They set up a grill and tables outside to create an atmosphere of rest and relaxation that most MSU students find on the white shores of Destin. Beginning with burgers and ending with homemade cookies, these spring breakers caught a glimpse of typical college undertakings.
Although most college students would resent being cooped up on their beloved spring break time, the team managed to complete numerous tasks and are happy with their productivity. They are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel while the rest of the breakers are busy shielding the light from their eyes on their cruise, beach, or any other typical spring break locality.
The time off from class actually was a relief, relief that they would have more time to devote to EcoCAR 2 before inspections.
|February 25, 2013||Posted by Claire under Year Two Posts|
Stephen Wren, now a Nuclear Mechanical Engineer, was once an integral part of Mississippi State University’s Mechanical/Powertrain group on the EcoCAR 1 team. Stephen began his career in the Navy before attending Mississippi State as a Nuclear Machinist’s Mate in New York. He spent four years learning about and operating pressurized water reactors. After his time in the Navy, he decided to pursue his Mechanical Engineering degree at MSU. When he first enrolled, he knew that he wanted to be involved with the EcoCAR team and it was part of his motivation in choosing to move to Starkville, MS.
“I knew early on in my college career that I wanted to be involved in design of environmentally-conscious thermal/energy systems,” he said. After graduation and an extensive job search, Stephen decided to move to Virginia. “A few months after moving, I found a role at my current company, a utility/energy consulting company in Australia with an office in East Tennessee. By a stroke of luck…the offer and position were right in line with what I was hoping to find for a long-term career, and I accepted it and moved…again.”
When reflecting on how Stephen got to where he is today, he thinks of working with the MSU team and how the skills he developed with EcoCAR are invaluable. Stephen began by simply attending the weekly meetings and helping where he could, then, as he advanced in his curriculum, he began taking on more technical and challenging roles. During his time with the team, he was involved with designing and building the full scale driving simulator used in the EcoCAR Year 1 competition expo and machined the aluminum motor mounts used on the final vehicle shipped to Detroit and Washington D.C. Along with these tasks came the real-world, hands-on experience that is so vital to the EcoCAR competition.
“I learned a number of skills that I have used in my positions since graduation that I never would have encountered in the classroom,” Stephen said. “Time management was one of the most valuable things I learned on the EcoCAR team.”
The MSU EcoCAR 2 team is proud to have Stephen as an alum and look forward to seeing the great things he will continue to accomplish in the future.
|January 31, 2013||Posted by Claire under Year Two Posts|
The MSU EcoCAR 2 team recently made a safe return from Austin, TX! EcoCAR 2: Plugging into the Future held their annual Winter Workshop at the Freescale facilities and it was co-sponsored by dSPACE, Inc. During the trip, the team was able to review competition rules, present deliverables for competition points, and experience further training. Team members Jonathan Moore and George Hilliard gave a Software-in-the-Loop (SIL) presentation and Business Manager, Brooks Davis presented the judges with a Sponsorship Pitch. These were the first presentations in Year 2 with an opportunity for competition points.
EcoCAR Organizers made sure to provide welcoming events such as Welcome Night at Abel’s on the Lake and the Sponsor Social in the Courtyard Marriott. Thursday, January 24th, the Communications Managers were able to visit different middle schools in the area for outreach day and the MSU EcoCAR was on exhibit! The last night of the workshop consisted of an evening at local legend, Maggie Mae’s on the infamous 6th street downtown. These events were extremely helpful in allowing fellowship for competing teams to get to know each other and network with the organizers as well. Also, all of the teams were given the opportunity to visit and tour the Circuit of the Americas F-1 race track and venue on the last day.
The 2013 Winter Workshop was very successful and MSU is grateful for all EcoCAR Organizers and sponsors and all of their hard work. The team not only learned invaluable knowledge from the sessions but gained a great lifetime experience and potential life-long acquaintances.
|January 15, 2013||Posted by Claire under Video Post, Year Two Posts|
This video demonstrates the relationship between Mississippi State University’s EcoCAR 2 team and headline sponsor, General Motors. This is MSU’s 9th year in the competition and throughout that time, the team has learned the value of sponsor relationships at every level. GM is not just a background factor in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition. They, along with the Department of Energy, are the heart of this competition series.
Mississippi State University is competing in a three-year, inter-collegiate engineering competition, “EcoCAR 2: Plugging into the future”, with General Motors and the Department of Energy as headline sponsors. The primary purpose of the competition is to improve the fuel economy of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, through a re-engineering process, without compromising consumer acceptability. Not only does General Motors donate a Malibu to each team, they mentor the students to prepare them for transformation of the vehicle. The competition educates the next generation of automotive engineers by challenging students to use General Motors’ Vehicle Development Process (VDP) that directly ties in with the competition objective to offer real-world experience to college students. EcoCAR 2 gives students the opportunity to mimic GM’s process and build upon their classroom knowledge with indispensable experience.
General Motors’ VDP provides students with a road map so that they can emulate the process actually followed by GM engineers making the students’ experience representative of what they may later encounter when they begin employment. “They have given us an opportunity to learn and grow in the industry that we will one day be a real part of,” said Wesley Haney, an MSU team member.
General Motors has taken a personal interest in the students involved with the MSU team. Because of the size of a sponsor such as GM, it is easy for the relationship to become impersonal; however, GM has made a great effort to put a face to their corporate image and relate to the students on a one-on-one basis. This has been accomplished not only by the mentors and other GM employees with whom the students interact, but also by hosting the students at their facilities so that the relationship becomes more realistic.
MSU understands how General Motors plays more than just a broad role in keeping these AVTCs and the competing teams successful. One way that shows GM’s commitment is the mentors they’ve provided to MSU’s team throughout the years. Bill Beggs, Sarah Vano, and now Gary Rushton have all helped in the growth of the team, not only in AVTC successes, but also in a professional and personal sense.
“General Motors is obviously a huge factor in the success of the AVTC program as a whole, but a lesser known story pertains to the success of the individual student at both the personal and professional level and the inspiration and motivation that they provide”, Claire Faccini, Communications Manager said. From all of the students across the years and from Mississippi State University, thank you General Motors!
|January 10, 2013||Posted by Kim.Tootle under Technical Post, Year Two Posts|
The powertrain team of MSU’s EcoCAR 2 program is in full swing with the development and testing of their hybrid platform. The new ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) has been received and the integration of the electric motor is now underway. Many design features have been developed for Year 2 of the competition; most of which have been designed and fabricated by student team members.
One of the key features is the chain drive system linking the ICE and the electric motor. The team started with a basic understanding of how gears and chains work. However, in the design and selection of the proper parts, much was learned through the simulation of gear tooth pitch and the stress placed on the individual chain links. Those parts are complete and the fine tuning of the complete system is currently underway.
Some parts that the team has developed are designed with weight savings in mind. A perfect example of this is the creation of new engine and transmission mounts. Josh Hoop and John Stewart, the Mechanical and Powertrain Team leaders respectively, worked to create safe, reliable and creative mounts for the new car. All of those parts are being machined in-house by John Stewart via CNC (Computer Numeric Control) operations.
“We knew that the OEM parts would work. But we were really looking for an opportunity to go that extra mile to lessen the car’s sprung weight. Just one of those areas included the design and implementation of new engine and transmission mounts. A lot of time was spent in CAD work, with emphasis on the FEA (finite element analysis) of the structures. Now that we have permission to move forward with these mounts, the machining is about to get underway. That’s something that I personally really enjoy.” — John Stewart
The development of the parts has taken a few months, mainly because of the extent of communication that has to happen between the team and the event coordinators. That has provided a lot of time to teach the younger team members how to employ their academic skills into real world applications. Very few team members have experience in machining. This opportunity has provided some insight for those members into just how that process works.
“I really didn’t have any idea about what goes into machining parts. In my head, I thought it was like ‘hey, let’s just put some metal in the CNC and in a couple of minutes, there would be new parts.’ Through the guidance and instruction of my team leaders, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the skill and time it takes to create something from nothing.” — Brandon Everett
Not all of the car’s attributes are easily seen. Car owners should always be looking for what can’t be seen. It’s those little things that make your car what it is. And saving weight means saving money at the gas pump.