Students and faculty of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were on hand Friday morning at Ayres Hall to send off UT’s EcoCAR 2 team for its final-round competitions in Milford, Michigan, and Washington, D.C., where the cars will be put through a series of tests to determine which one best meets the competition’s goals of reduced emissions and increased fuel economy and safety.
“We are proud to send the team and the car for two weeks of intensive testing and evaluation, including presentations by the students summarizing a year of their efforts,” said faculty advisor David Irick, a professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering. “More than that, this final competition for EcoCAR2 is the culmination of three years of effort by more than 80 students from the College of Engineering, College of Communication and Information, and College of Business Administration.”
Engineering students worked on the vehicle itself, while communications students prepared outreach programs, reports and public showings, and business students came up with model business plans for the team.
The vehicle, a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu donated to each team by General Motors, will be taken to GM’s Milford Proving Grounds for the first batch of testing and an autocross event before heading to Washington for the remaining events, including a ride-and-drive event at L’Enfant Plaza.
“We’re really thrilled for our team, and know they will represent the University of Tennessee well,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “Butch (Irick) and his team really put a lot of themselves into the AVTC competitions, and we’re proud of their efforts.”
Established by the U.S. Department of Energy and GM in 1988 with the goal of improving fuel and auto technology for more eco-friendly use, Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions have undergone 10 separate challenges, with EcoCAR 2 marking UT’s ninth appearance.
UT is one of 15 institutions taking part in the EcoCAR 2 competition, and one of only 10 of those who will also be taking part in the recently announced EcoCAR 3.
In addition to GM, several other auto- and tech-related companies donate parts, time and expertise to the teams, something that gives participating students the real-world experience of having worked in the industry.
“That’s really one of the big takeaways that the students get,” said Irick. “They get the experience of working with real products on real cars, and in return GM and the others have students coming out of college who are trained beyond what a normal new hire would be.”
Each round of the competition is timed to coincide with the end of the academic year. Teams compete for prestige and prizes, with winning teams taking home cash awards.
In the second round last year, UT took home second place in the business program and also won the Spirit of Business award.
For more information on the student engineering program, the participating schools or the competition sponsors, visit http://www.ecocar2.org.
For more information about UT’s team, visit http://ecocar2.utk.edu.
Written By: David Goddard