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DENSO Once Again Helping UT’s EcoCAR Team Succeed


DENSO Foundation president Doug Patton (l) and Brian Crawford (r) from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee present a check to Dr. Matthew Mench and Dr. Butch Irick (center l-r).

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, EcoCAR team has once again gotten support from a familiar partner: DENSO has provided the team with $50,000.

The aid from the Blount County-based business will help the team purchase a truck to transport their competition car.

As part of the first year of the current round of competition, that car—a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro—has been modified to the point that it is not currently street legal, making the transport vehicle necessary.

“Teams are prohibited from driving the vehicle on public highways until a year from now,” said Butch Irick, the team’s faculty adviser and a research assistant professor in the MABE department. “The truck will take the car to test facilities, outreach events and competition, so it’s absolutely vital to us.”

Doug Patton, DENSO Foundation president, and Brian Crawford, from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, met with UT students on the EcoCAR 3 team to present a check and talk about the importance of the competition.

Patton said he values the hands-on experience the program offers students.

He also told the team he places a high emphasis on encouraging youth to pursue an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and he encouraged them to display the Camaro around the Knoxville area to excite the next generation of automotive engineers.

All told, DENSO has now provided support and aid worth more than $400,000 to the team over more than a decade of sponsorship.

EcoCAR 3, the current competition, is a four-year collegiate engineering program that builds on the successful 26-year history of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge eco-friendly automotive technologies.

General Motors provides each of the 16 competing teams with a Chevrolet Camaro as well as vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support.

The DOE and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation and logistical support.

EcoCAR 3 provides invaluable experience and training to promising young minds entering the North American job market.


By David Goddard