MathWorks Software Drives Success for the WVU EcoCAR Team

 Written by: Kaycee Kiser, WVU Communications Manager

Sponsor support in student competitions such as Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) allows students to engage in a hands-on environment that can help them develop skills for their future careers, while being led by industry professionals. The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge gives students this chance while redesigning a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer into a hybrid electric vehicle with connected and automated vehicle (CAVs) features utilizing software generously donated by sponsors. As part of the EcoCAR competition, teams were asked to partner with a competition-level sponsor to create and/or host an event, whether it be in-person or virtual. West Virginia University (WVU), a school that has participated in many AVTCs, partnered with MathWorks for Year 4 of the competition.

Since 2001, MathWorks has been a supporter of AVTCs. Some products MathWorks supplies to the competition include MATLAB and Simulink. MATLAB is a programming platform that allows for scientists and engineers to create and analyze many different systems and products. This platform can be used in industries and academia for creating control systems, image and video processing, machine learning, and other engineering analyses. Simulink, along with several built-in virtual toolboxes that support machine learning including fuzzy logic and model predictive control are used by teams in the EMC to focus on adaptive cruise control (ACC) and vehicle energy management strategies. Students on EcoCAR teams also have direct access to technical support personnel such as Sam Reinsel, an alumni of AVTCs and the Student Competition Technical Evangelist who is dedicated to helping students in the competition.

Aside from providing software and technical support, each team is assigned a mentor from MathWorks. The MathWorks mentor for WVU is Walt Stuart.  Stuart has been the WVU MathWorks mentor since Year 1 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge and works directly with students on both powertrain modeling and simulation, as well as their CAVs development activities.

“MathWorks gains immensely from the relationship with the teams since many of these students may become recruiting prospects for our company. The leading-edge use of our software by each team also helps us to make these products even better for developing next-generation vehicle systems,” says Stuart.

Alongside the relationship between MathWorks and the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, Stuart says he is honored to mentor the WVU EcoCAR team in the use of MathWorks tools.

“Their progress through the competition has been impressive, and I look forward to a strong finish for WVU in the EcoCAR series finale in May 2022,” said Stuart.

For Year 4 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge series, WVU and MathWorks decided to create a social media campaign through Instagram to showcase the relationship between the school and the sponsor, highlighting the career opportunities with MathWorks during college and after graduation. Due to the rise in popular apps such as TikTok, the team created short videos called “reels” to be posted onto Instagram on March 24th, 2022. WVU was tasked with creating 3 Instagram reels to be posted and shared by MathWorks social media.

The first reel created highlighted the relationship between WVU and MathWorks by showing off the software MathWorks donates to the competition and how the software is utilized. The reel included software and tools such as Simulink, fuzzy logic, and model predictive control to show how they are being used in controlling the remodeled EcoCAR Chevy Blazer. The second reel details different training sessions that are offered to teams and individuals. Anyone can find and participate in the training MathWorks provides, but there are also trainings that are dedicated only to teams of the EMC. The final reel included ways to become involved with MathWorks during school and potentially after graduation. The reel promoted internships MathWorks offers and the MATLAB Student Ambassador program to be a part of during a college career. Jobs that are available through MathWorks were also shown for career opportunities.

Be sure to check out the reels by visiting our Instagram page @wvuecocarchallenge and follow us to stay up to date throughout the remainder of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge.