Theodore Bohn’s Three Decades with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions

From participating in student competitions to working with Argonne National Laboratory as a competition organizer, Theodore Bohn is no stranger to Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs). Bohn’s connection to AVTCs started when he was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. Bohn first learned of the competitions when the HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Challenge was announced in the early 1990s. Bohn would later go on to participate in the HEV Challenge to gain new experiences and face new challenges.

After his time as a participant concluded, he began to volunteer with competitions sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Through his experience as a participant and volunteer in the student competitions, a new career opportunity presented itself for Bohn as a graduate student. According to Bohn, a job opening that aligned with his work with Argonne National Laboratory gave him the opportunity to conduct research and work with the competitions managed by Argonne National Laboratory. Bohn mentored teams on safety and innovation and helped to create competition guidelines during the FutureCar Challenge, FutureTruck, and early EcoCAR challenges. Over time, Bohn took on new career challenges himself. Bohn now works for Argonne National Laboratory, which manages the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, as a principal electrical engineer. Specifically, Bohn works for the Center of Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory.

Outside of his experience with AVTC and Argonne National Laboratory, Bohn is a husband and father. His children have shown an interest in problem solving and engineering. He is excited to see their interests grow and states he will encourage them to seek out opportunities such as student competitions.

Bohn accredits AVTCs for the benefits and advantages it gave him in his career. One of the benefits of joining the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge or future competitions is the opportunity to network. The possible networking connections include peers within their university, other students across North America, competition organizers and competition sponsors. Bohn says that in the past thirty years he has built many lasting professional relationships with former participants and organizers.

In terms of the work Bohn is most proud of with AVTCs, is mentoring teams with practical advice and teaching safety topics. Bohn has traveled throughout the competing universities during pre-competition inspections. It is was at the inspections that Bohn was truly able to connect with the next generation of participants.

When asked what advice Bohn would give to someone who is new to the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge or future Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, Bohn said, “Combining risks and unknowns does seldom result in net benefit. When in doubt, find a subject matter expert to explain the fundamental issues and true interpretation of the subject in question.” He recommends that often the challenge for students is asking the right questions, rather than finding the right mentor. Bohn suggests diving in and developing your true questions and before pursuing a “guru” in the subject matter.

Bohn’s final advice to students interested in joining EcoCAR is to “stay curious and balance humility with boldness” as they join the challenge.