Where Are They Now: Cheri-Ann Olsen Knows Both Sides of AVTCs

Cheri-Ann Olsen has been involved in the Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) for more than ten years. She first participated in the program as a student on the University of Alberta’s Ethanol Vehicle Challenge team in 2000 and FutureTruck team in 2002. After graduation, Cheri took a job at Natural Resources Canada, an AVTC sponsor since the program’s inception in 1987, where she has served as a competition organizer and Executive Steering Committee Member. Over the years, Cheri has had the opportunity to see the benefits of AVTC competitions from both sides of the spectrum – as a student and as an organizer.

“As a student, I had the unique opportunity to apply the skills I learned in school, and gain new experiences from the business and outreach aspects of the program,” said Cheri. “As an organizer, it’s exciting to watch the teams learn, develop and refine their technologies during the competitions.”

One of Cheri’s fondest memories was witnessing the University of Waterloo Challenge X team create a fully operational fuel cell vehicle that competed in the dynamic events during the final year of the competition. This major milestone marked the first time in AVTC history that a team was able to participate using a hydrogen fuel cell for vehicle propulsion.

Cheri has been a core organizer for both the Challenge X and EcoCAR competition series, serving as  a member of the Technical Sub Committee, the Co-Event Captain for the Competition Scoring, and a member of the Executive Steering Committee. These roles have given Cheri a close and intimate look at the teams’ capabilities and their vehicle development process.

“As a whole, advanced vehicle technology has come a long way in the last 30 years,” said Cheri. “It’s really nice to see all the hard work between governments, academia and industry come to fruition through competitions such as Challenge X and EcoCAR. It’s exciting to know that the future of advanced vehicle technology in North America is in such capable hands.”

With the EcoCAR Challenge well underway, both Cheri and Natural Resources Canada look forward to seeing where the next installment of AVTCs will take the ever evolving automotive industry.