Written by: Sabreena Lauzon, Communications Manager
As a continuously innovative vehicle producer, General Motors (GM) holds a spot as one of the largest automotive companies that creates some of the most well-known car brands around the world. GM has sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) for 15 years and stands with the Department of Energy and MathWorks as one of the three headline sponsors in the current EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. As a headline sponsor, GM’s support comes in many forms and is critical to teams’ success throughout the competition.
At the start of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, GM provided every team with a brand new 2019 stock Chevrolet Blazer, where teams are tasked with redesigning the vehicle into hybrid-electric with level 2 SAE autonomous features. The UW EcoCAR team has participated in AVTCs since 2011, and in each competition, has worked on vehicles provided by General Motors from the Chevrolet Malibu, Camaro, and this current competition’s Blazer. Along with providing the cars, GM provides industry-level knowledge about the vehicles to team members which allows each team to effectively transform each vehicle per competition requirements.
On top of providing the vehicles and knowledge necessary to re-engineer them, GM offers support to EcoCAR teams in the form of mentorship. Each EcoCAR team works closely with an industry professional from GM and is available for assistance in vehicle-related matters. Ever since the UW team became a participant in AVTCs during EcoCAR 2 in 2011, Michael Abowd has acted as our support and mentor from GM.
Michael Abowd has been involved with several universities throughout AVTCs since 2004. In terms of the role mentors play on each team, Michael states that they “can help with students’ knowledge and background, or can get other Subject Matter Experts involved back at GM to help. Moreover, mentors can relate what the students are going through on the project to jobs they could be doing when they get out of school.”
The skills that EcoCAR students develop provide unique, hands-on experiences that are virtually identical to one seen within the automotive industry. “In many cases, students come to GM for a full-time job when they graduate,” Michael said. “It’s very satisfying to see how people’s careers develop over time and know that I’ve been able to play a small role.”
On behalf of the UW EcoCAR team, we want to thank GM and our mentor, Michael Abowd, for all their support throughout AVTCs and the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. Their assistance plays a key role in the success of both the competition and all participating students’ hands-on experiences throughout all universities.