Can You Imagine Life Without MathWorks? OSU Can’t!

MathWorks is one of the leading developers of mathematical computer software and just one of the instrumental sponsors that make the EcoCAR project possible.

At The Ohio State University, EcoCAR 2 students wouldn’t know where to start in rebuilding their vehicle without the use of MathWorks software. The OSU team uses MathWorks software in a number of different areas, including engine control, vehicle performance simulation and testing to ensure safe and reliable software to operate the vehicle.

The engine that the OSU team chose to use for the EcoCAR competition was originally a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine. In order to make the engine work for the competition, the team converted the engine to run on ethanol fuel. This conversion was made possible through the use of MathWorks software such as Matlab and Simulink, which allowed the team to rewrite the entire engine control code.

Another aspect of collaboration between MathWorks and OSU has been the development of a vehicle simulator developed by the Ohio State team called EcoSIM. Without the use of MathWorks software to create this model, it would be impossible to test the Malibu controls outside of the actual vehicle. EcoSIM makes it possible for the team to develop and refine the control software to make sure the vehicle is functioning properly.

Finally, the team has been using model coverage, another valuable tool in the MathWorks software. Model coverage tools can tell the team which areas of control code have or have not been fully tested, thus improving the safety and functionality of the vehicle controls before testing them in the vehicle. However, to get this model working properly for the team, the team had to reach out to MathWorks for some additional support.

The Ohio State’s MathWorks mentor, Shaun Kalinowski, helped the OSU team work to develop and refine their model coverage system for the vehicle.

“Amanda Hyde contacted me because she wanted to take her test and verification for her model one step further. Amanda wanted to actually do further verification to ensure that her team’s model was error free. This was the first time I had seen an EcoCAR team try to take these next steps in model verification. Amanda was having some issues getting her model to run correctly. It didn’t take us very long to work together before she had Simulink verification giving model analysis results,” Shawn Kalinowski said.

Shaun, who has been an EcoCAR mentor for over four years, has enjoyed his time as a mentor. ”It has been fun and very rewarding to see student engineers take their concepts and get them functioning and working on a vehicle leveraging all the technology. This is very encouraging to me, and it should be encouraging to all of us, because these really are the next generation of engineers that are going to be designing the cars that you and I drive in.”

Without the use of MathWorks software, the Ohio State team would not be able to accomplish the entire Vehicle Development Process in the competition timeline of three years. MathWorks involvement has made it possible for the Ohio State team to safely and efficiently rebuild their 2013 Chevy Malibu!