Mentor Monday: From the GM Sunrayce Competition to GM’s Proving Grounds

This week’s Mentor Monday post features Keith Van Houten, a noise and vibration specialist at the GM Proving Grounds. As a mechanical engineering student at Virginia Tech, Keith participated in the GM Sunrayce competition and is thrilled to return to his alma mater to mentor the Virginia Tech EcoCAR team. 

With more than 20 years of experience in student engineering competitions, Keith assists his team in properly balancing the EcoCAR’s architecture. While new and complex designs provide opportunities for performance edge, Keith teaches his team that their implementation must be well balanced with the inclusion of proven technology – the type of technology they can execute with a high degree of reliability. So far, his team has struck a good balance with this year’s VT E85 split parallel hybrid architecture.

Both Keith and Virginia Tech have been involved in Advanced Technology Vehicle Competitions for quite some time, so their experiences have helped the team keep the project on track. As expected, the team’s recent inspection proved that the students are on schedule. While Keith assists the students, they teach him the details of evolving battery and hybrid technology – something he hasn’t had the opportunity to do in his current work assignment.

GM mentor, Keith Van Houten (right) talks to Virginia Tech engineering students, Lynn Gantt and Patrick Walsh, about design options for the high voltage belted alternator starter system