Where Are They Now: Penn State University’s Andrew Eldridge

For the Penn State University Advanced Vehicle Team (PSU AVT), the night before the first vehicle pre-inspection in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge was a challenge.

Co-team leader Andrew Eldridge and the rest of the PSU AVT had been working endlessly to get the vehicle running on its own – and so far, they hadn’t quite perfected it.

Luckily, the next day brought a different kind of luck.

“At one point our faculty advisor Gary walked into the lab to grab a soda,” Eldridge explained. “When he walked out a few minutes later, our vehicle was ready to go.”

It was a good day.

Penn State University's Andrew Eldridge

Penn State University’s Andrew Eldridge

This is one of the best memories Eldridge has from being a part of the PSU AVT. Now a product development engineer at A123 Systems, he spends his time running and developing tests, much like he did as a member of the PSU AVT.

Thanks to the experience he has gained from the EcoCAR and EcoCAR 2 competitions, he feels more confident and prepared to put his engineering skills to work.

“One thing I learned from being a part of EcoCAR is that sometimes you need to just make a decision and go with it. You can’t get stuck on coming up with the ‘perfect’ design,” he said.

Serving as co-team leader in his final semester as a member of the PSU AVT, and as a high voltage group leader and mentor before that, Eldridge is used to giving advice and helping his teammates in their own projects.

What’s his best piece of advice? Time management.

“Even though it is really hard to stick to your schedule and accomplish tasks on time, this is really important,” Eldridge said. “If you fall behind, the number of late nights and all-nighters can quickly add up.”

Eldridge admits those all-nighters are not something he’ll miss anytime soon, but he said his time at EcoCAR will always stay with him.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget it,” he said.