And the Winner of the Year Three Competition is…

The University of Alabama has been named the Year Three EcoCAR Mobility Challenge champion. The Ohio State University and West Virginia University teams finish second and third.

Last night during the Awards Ceremony, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge celebrated the winners in over 40 categories and awarded more than $100,000 in prize money to the associated universities. For jumping to the top of the leaderboard, the Crimson Tide is taking home an extra $10,000 to further support the university’s advanced vehicle technology program.

“We’re always impressed by the level of creativity students bring to this challenge, and this year the students exceeded our expectations,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “The EcoCAR students have demonstrated their resolve and creativity to transform their virtual designs for the future of mobility into reality – all with the additional constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Year Three marks a critical point in the program where students must make the pivot from propulsion system integration to controls development and testing. Throughout the last two years, the students strived to conceptualize and build the framework for their redesigned Chevrolet Blazers. In Year Three, they put that work to the test and took the vehicles on the road to assess its drivability, performance and energy efficiency.

“Leveraging their design work from Years One and Two, the students were able to collaborate remotely and test virtually before moving onto physical performance assessments of their vehicles,” said Lauren Tabolinsky, Academic Program Manager, MathWorks. “This was a great example of the kind of real-world challenges these students will face in their careers and they rose to the occasion.”

Rising to the occasion during a challenging time is what propelled the UA EcoCAR Team into first place. After integrating their designs into their vehicle this fall, the UA team experienced major propulsion system component failures that rendered their vehicle inoperable. Despite this setback, the team quickly developed a plan for repairs that enabled them to maintain production-level integration quality. The University of Alabama went on to be the only team that earned perfect scores in both the fall and spring technical inspections, thus earning them the award for the Best Year 3 Vehicle Inspections. Their focus on vehicle quality helped them perform well in all the validation testing activities.

During the Year 3 Competition from May 18-20, each team was scored across six key areas ranging from Propulsion System Integration, Propulsion Controls and Modeling, Connected and Automated Vehicle Systems (CAV), Project Management and Communications. Students from the UA EcoCAR team gave stellar competition presentations and took home the awards for the Best End-Year Project Status Presentation, Best Propulsion Controls & Modeling Presentation, and 2nd place in the MathWorks Model-Based Design Award. They also won the awards for the Best Impact Report, Outstanding Team and Sponsor Collaboration, and 1st place in the dSPACE Leadership in Validation Awards.

In addition to building a reliable, well-integrated vehicle, this team is building amazing leaders. Students from their team received the General Motors Women in STEM Award, the Excellence in Leadership Award, and the 1st Place Project Management program award. Their unwavering commitment to the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, along with all EcoCAR teams during this time, is truly admirable.

“We’re all impressed by the remarkable effort of students who worked through pandemic-related challenges in addition to the intense demands of making project vehicles run on propulsion systems they’ve designed. Their experiences in the last 12 months have paralleled what we in industry have faced,” said Ken Morris, General Motors Vice President, Autonomous and Electric Vehicle Programs.

Congratulations to all the EcoCAR teams on their hard work and dedication throughout Year Three of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. Thank you to all of our sponsors, team members, and faculty.

To view the full list of winners, click here.