MSU EcoCar team gears up for hybrid competition
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 07:01
Mississippi State University’s EcoCar2 team will participate in the winter training portion of the General Motors and Department of Energy “EcoCar2: Plugging into the Future” competition in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23 – 27.
Representatives from MSU will have the opportunity to meet with event officials to discuss the current progress of the team’s hybrid vehicle as it enters the final stages of the three-year competition, set to end in May 2013 in Yuma, Ariz.
MSU continues to compete against 14 top engineering schools in North America to enhance the design of the 2013 Chevy Malibu.
MSU’s EcoCar2 team currently leads the competition, following a win in Year One, the design and model simulation phase.
Claire Faccini, senior communication major and communication manager for the EcoCar2 team, said the students’ goal is to strive for energy efficiency while maintaining adequate consumer satisfaction.
“Our primary mission is to use General Motor’s vehicle development process to make the vehicle more fuel efficient without compromising consumer acceptability in the areas of safety, performance and utility,” she said.
Blake Brown, EcoCar2 team leader and graduate student in mechanical engineering, said this year’s car will achieve a predicted 87 miles per gallon due to its hybrid structure.
“Basically, we have an engine and an electric motor that are connected to the transmission through a chain drive, and our engine runs off of E85 which is 85 percent ethanol,” he said. “The electric motor is powered by a battery pack that will allow us to go around 60 miles. Once that battery charge depletes, we can turn our engine on.”
Brown also said for this design, materials will be ordered and original parts fabricated to satisfy the car’s innovative composition. He said the innovative design shows MSU’s ability to branch out.
“Instead of just sticking with what we’ve done in the past and what we’re used to, we went to an even more complex architecture with the Malibu,” he said. “So, I think that speaks a lot for Mississippi State. We striveto be the best.”
Under the direction of Marshall Molen and staff adviser Matthew Doude, over 121 students spanning 20 majors work for up to 40 hours per week to make the EcoCar2 possible.
Faccini said the team’s participation in advanced vehicle technology competitions has allowed the program to develop an accurate representation of a small scale corporation — an experience which provides students with the opportunity to confront modern day issues within a legitimate business setting.
“When they’re working on the car and they’re using that template of the vehicle development process by GM, they’re using their classroom knowledge with their real world experience,” she said.
Brandon Everett, senior mechanical engineering major and team leader for the powertrain aspect of the vehicle, said the EcoCar2 program has prepared him for real-world situations not only in mechanical engineering but in other fields as well.
“There are a lot of real-world problems that we come across, and you just never know what to expect sometimes. So I feel like that prepares students like myself to really be pushed out into the work force,” he said. “I chose EcoCar2 because of the broad spectrum that it covers. It’s not just mechanical engineering, it’s electrical, it’s computer engineering, it’s business, it’s accounting because you have to keep up with a budget.”
Looking forward, Faccini said the team aims to expand awareness of the program and encourage the participation of MSU students of all classifications and majors.
“One thing we really stress is that it’s not just for engineers,” she said. “You can be majoring in elementary education or agricultural science; we still want people to come and realize what a great thing we’re doing here.”
For more information on the EcoCar2 team and upcoming events visit facebook.com/msuecocar2, follow @MSStateEcoCAR2 on Twitter or plan to attend one of the EcoCar2 team’s open meetings Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Seminar room.