The EcoCAR EV Challenge officially kicked off this Fall semester at 15 campuses across North America, including 2 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 2 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Each of the four MSIs will receive $250k to help build automotive programs for MSIs and to improve recruiting, retention, and engagement of underrepresented minorities throughout all four years of the program The University of California Davis, one of the MSIs selected to participate, hosted the Year 1 Fall Workshop at the ARC on their campus in Davis, CA. The workshop focused on the new Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Subteam and on the importance of diversity in STEM and e-mobility equity through training and hands-on workshops.
During the EcoCAR EV Challenge, each team will recruit a DEI Manager (DEIM) which is a competition-funded position that will work closely with the faculty and team leadership to foster and model an inviting, respectful, and inclusive team environment that allows everyone to contribute and thrive. The goal for this subteam is to build a diverse team, embed equity throughout their decision-making processes, and cultivate an inclusive environment that supports all students, regardless of their backgrounds. To better prepare students for this role and initiative, teams received in-depth training from EV Noire, a minority owned firm focused on E-Mobility Best Practices and E-Mobility DEI.
EV Noire provided a series of training such as Community Outreach Training which presented effective ways to educate community members on advanced mobility and the importance of conducting community research; Building Strong Leaders which discussed the importance of strong leadership and educated teams on effective communication practices employed by effective leaders; and Building a DEI Plan, which educated teams on how to establish ownership and accountability around the objectives in one of the DEI Deliverables, the DEI Plan.
“EV Noire’s training provided students with the tools necessary to build their teams in Year 1 of the EV Challenge around DEI principles,” said Armani Hrobowski, Advanced Mobility Outreach & Education Technical Specialist, Argonne National Laboratory. “EV Noire not only provided invaluable DEI education to our students through the hands-on training, but also developed a DEI resource guide in collaboration with the Sustainable Transportation Education & Partnerships (STEP) team at Argonne, which will help teams continue their DEI education after the workshop,” he added.
Teams also learned about the new Equity in Mobility Challenge competition component that will challenge students to develop stakeholder-centered community mobility proposals in the Equity in Mobility: Community Challenge (Years 1 & 2) and inclusive-design projects for underserved groups in the Equity in Mobility: Inclusive Design Challenge (Years 3 & 4).
Representatives from Sacramento Clean Cities, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, Green Tech Education and Employment (a local Sacramento community-based organization), and Alco Building Solutions (ABS) presented a case study on their Del Paso Heights Mobility Hub, which brings together various transportation modes – such as shared zero emissions vehicles (ZEV), an electric shuttle and e-bikes – in one facility, making them accessible for the everyday mobility needs of the local community.
“The Del Paso Heights Mobility Hub visit and case study provided students with insight into what a true community-engaged project looks like,” said Hrobowski. “The team discussed how they developed an e-mobility solution tailored to the needs of the community and imbedded workforce development into the project to educate local students in skilled trades. Students will be responsible for developing proposals for similar projects through the Equity in Mobility: Community Challenge, so it’s imperative that they see a success story that they can model their proposals after,” he added.
Following the case study, EcoCAR students had the opportunity to tour the facility and see first-hand the impacts of the Del Paso Heights Mobility Hub.
The Year 1 Fall Workshop provided students hands-on training that will better prepare them to tackle the challenges they will encounter through the new DEI initiative. In addition, the workshop provided the foundation for all students to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for each team at their respective universities.