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ECE Plays Key Role in EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Win

Atlanta, GA

Multiple members of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) contributed to the four-year project.

Georgia Institute of Technology has been named the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Year Four champion by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Tech’s award-winning interdisciplinary team consists of approximately 60 undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Engineering, College of Computing, Scheller College of Business, and Georgia State University.

Eleven North American university EcoCAR teams gathered for the final challenge in Arizona from May 9-20, 2022. The event marked the culmination of the competition, which tasked the universities with applying propulsion system electrification, autonomous driving control, and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity, to improve the energy efficiency of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer while maintaining safety, utility, and consumer acceptability.

Over the four-year competition — sponsored by the DOE, General Motors (GM) and MathWorks — each team transformed its vehicle from a design concept into a reality. The final year of competition challenged teams to test, prove, and refine their work from the previous three years, mimicking a real-world automotive product development cycle.

ECE professor David Taylor is a faculty advisor for Georgia Tech’s EcoCAR team, along with professors Michael Leamy in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (ME), and Thomas Fuller in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE).

“The role of ECE in this competition is significant, ranging from powertrain electrification to driving automation. Our team’s vehicle excelled in these areas, winning the events concerned with energy consumption and autonomous operation,” said Taylor. “The EcoCAR program provides valuable experiences for ECE students because the real-world challenges of the project effectively supplement classroom learning.”

Georgia Tech’s EcoCAR team is a $1 million research program housed under Georgia Tech’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program. VIP allows undergraduate and graduate students to participate in ambitious, long-term, multidisciplinary project teams that are led by faculty. The VIP program originated in ECE under the leadership of professor Edward Coyle.

ECE graduate research assistant (GRA) Nicholas Hummel played a key leadership role on the team along with fellow GRA Nishan Nekoo in ME. Both Hummel and Nekoo received their master’s degrees this spring. Hummel also gave the first-place presentation on Connected and Automated Vehicle Systems with recent ECE bachelor’s degree graduate Joyce Zhao.

“I've been on the team for the past two years, and have seen it come from a nearly fully virtual format at the beginning of the pandemic to the success we've achieved this year,” said Hummel, who led the team’s driving automation efforts. “If I had not joined this team, I would never have had the opportunity to grow so much as a leader and increase my passion for automation and robotics.”

Additionally, recent ECE bachelor’s degree graduate Braeden Dickson, along with recent ME bachelor’s degree graduate Anna Cobb, gave the first-place presentation on Propulsion Controls and Modeling. Braeden worked on powertrain controls to convert the conventional Chevy Blazer to a hybrid electric vehicle architecture. With his efforts, the Georgia Tech vehicle was the only vehicle of the competition to improve energy consumption over the stock Blazer.

Read more about the award-winning team, view pictures from the finale, and learn about future plans. 

Additional Photos

Blazer_EcoCarChallenge

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EcoCar Awarded

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Last revised May 27, 2022