Students seek ways to make vehicles safer, greener, more connected

October 17, 2014

Most people spend more time in their car each day than anywhere except work or home. Over the next 10 years, experts say, our vehicles will be transformed to improve the driving experience. But how will these new cars be safer, greener and more connected than their predecessors? Delphi Automotive, one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers, wants Penn State engineering students to be part of that conversation.

Students in this semester’s EDSGN 100: Introduction to Engineering Design class will work in teams to address Delphi’s challenge by coming up with potential ideas that might help auto manufacturers incorporate cutting-edge features without compromising a vehicle’s efficiency or affordability. 

Sven Bilén, associate professor of engineering design and head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, noted the timeliness of the project. “It seems almost every day in the press you read a story about self-driving cars, new safety systems like back-up cameras or better fuel mileage. Our students are being asked to consider what might be included in the cars of tomorrow.”

Robert Seidler, engineering director, global core and E/E Architecture, at Delphi Electrical/Electronic Architecture, said the firm is pleased to sponsor the engineering design projects this semester and to work with Penn State engineering students. “This opportunity provides Delphi a ‘fresh eyes’ perspective on next generation automotive technology and what may become important to future consumers.”

Each design team will start by choosing from one of three, or a combination of three, target areas: safe, green and connected. “Safe” project solutions will aim to protect drivers and passengers, “green” concepts will focus on safeguarding the environment, and “connected” proposals will ensure drivers and passengers are optimally connected within the vehicle with minimal distractions.

Students will then research existing technologies in their category of choice.  From there, teams may modify an existing feature or function or create a new technology for enhancing the vehicle of the future.

At the end of the semester, students must provide a systems diagram, a concept of operations and a life cycle analysis for the devices they propose.

Seidler noted, “We are excited to review the student proposals from the challenge, as we recognize Penn State’s engineering curriculum’s strength. In addition, this partnership provides Delphi an early screening of tomorrow’s future talent pool of engineers and interns while exposing various engineering disciplines and career opportunities within Delphi to them.”

Projects will be on display at the College of Engineering Design Showcase Dec. 11 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Delphi operates 126 manufacturing facilities and 15 technical centers across 32 countries, utilizing a regional service model that enables it to serve its global customers. The company has approximately 161,000 employees worldwide, with more than 5,000 located in the United States.

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Last Updated October 20, 2014