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UT Team Finishes Big at EcoCAR 3 Competition

UT’s EcoCAR team had their best performance in 20 years at the EcoCAR 3 Year Three competition held May 14–20 at General Motors Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, and May 21–25 in Washington, DC.

This year’s competition asked all 16 teams to integrate their hybrid-electric designs into a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The vehicle had to be more energy-efficient without losing high-performance or safety features.

Going into the competition, UT was in 6th place based on pre-competition reports and other deliverables.

At the Milford Proving Grounds the team underwent a series of 8 vehicle dynamic testing events, garnering 1st in 0–60 acceleration; 1st in 50–70 acceleration; 1st in ride quality; and 2nd in autocross.

After a week of technical, communications, and project management presentations in DC the team came in 5th place overall—a huge accomplishment after having placed 13th at last year’s competition. ,

Emily King, communications manager for the UT team, received the Spirit of Communications Award, and Butch Irick, MABE research professor and the team’s faculty advisor, received the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award from the National Science Foundation.

“We worked with a large support team from the Tickle College of Engineering, our team sponsors, and professionals in East Tennessee who lent time and support to our team this year to help us do so well,” said King.

“The team has seen improvement in all areas of the competition,” said Irick. “The team has designed and built a car that is reliable and not unduly complicated, and that was evident at Milford Paving Grounds where the team completed all of the events with only two issues with loose hose clamps.”

“There is further room for improvement, though. There were still four teams ahead of us.”

The team wants to be prepared for the Year Four—and final—competition of the EcoCAR 3 project, which will be held next spring in Yuma, Arizona, and Los Angeles.

The team is already preparing to spend the next year refining the hybrid controls system and the powertrain integration in a few areas as well as additional general testing and evaluation.

UT’s team is comprised of thirty students, mostly mechanical engineering undergraduates, but undergraduate and graduate students in communications, business, and electrical engineering are also part of the team.

One major aspect of the team’s Year Three performance is that their Camaro is now approved for on-road testing. So, if you’re driving around the streets of Knoxville, keep your eyes peeled for an orange-striped white Camaro with a Power T on its hood. Chances are, it’ll beat you off the line.