Penn State EcoCAR team accepted into EcoCAR 2 contest

University Park, Pa. — More than a decade of strong finishes in advanced vehicle technology competitions has paved the way for Penn State to take on another three-year challenge. Organizers announced on April 13 that the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Technology Team is one of 16 teams selected to participate in EcoCAR 2: Plugging into the Future.

EcoCAR 2 builds on the 23-year history of Department of Energy's (DOE) advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate cutting-edge automotive technologies.

"We're thrilled about being selected," said Penn State faculty adviser Gary Neal, who also is a research engineer with the Applied Research Laboratory. "We have a lot of momentum going into EcoCAR 2 and are looking forward to a new vehicle platform. We're excited to build on the knowledge we've gained through our previous competitions."

The Penn State team's vehicle research activities are based at the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute.

"EcoCAR 2 gives a chance for innovative undergraduate and graduate students to work on a project aimed at minimizing harmful effects vehicles can have on the environment," Neal added. The team consists of students studying mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science, business and public relations.

The team is currently putting the finishing touches on their EcoCAR in hopes of winning top awards at the EcoCAR Year Three finals in Milford, Mich., and Washington, D.C., in June. The team placed third overall in Year Two and seventh in Year One.

Established by the DOE and General Motors, EcoCAR 2 is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind. The mission of EcoCAR 2 is to educate the next generation of automotive engineers through hands-on, real-world engineering experience. The competition challenges 16 North American universities to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

Shaped by the greatest design changes in the history of the automotive industry, EcoCAR 2 requires students to explore a variety of powertrain architectures and follow a real-world engineering regimen modeled after GM's Global Vehicle Development Process. EcoCAR 2 teams will utilize a Chevrolet Malibu as the integration platform for their advanced vehicle design.

General Motors provides production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation, technical and logistical support.

EcoCAR 2 aims to inspire and educate the next generation of automotive engineers and accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies that are of interest to the DOE and the automotive industry.

More information about the student engineering program, the participating schools or the competition sponsors can be found online at or the Inside the Green Garage blog.

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Last Updated April 28, 2011