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EcoCAR students getting ready for competition

April 10, 2013
by Emily Keats

In March, technical administrators from Argonne National Labs and General Motors visited the Motorsports Engineering Research Center to conduct a regional inspection.

The CSU MERC was the first-time host for these inspections, and housed vehicles from the University of Washington, the University of Victoria, and California State University, Los Angeles. These inspections took place during the week of March 11 to ensure that each EcoCAR 2 vehicle is prepared for a national competition held in Yuma, Ariz., and San Diego in May.

Inspectors excited to jump in

Inspectors were excited to get a jump start looking over the CSU Vehicle Innovation Team’s vehicle (called “H2eV”) and even planned for extra time with the vehicle to review CSU's unique competition approach using compressed hydrogen gas as a fuel.  Although last minute setbacks did not allow CSU to demonstrate a driving vehicle for the inspection, a large majority of the final vehicle systems were present for inspectors to scrutinize.

The CSU H2EV is the only vehicle with a high-voltage battery pack in the center of the car - all other teams use the trunk space. CSU is also the only team using hydrogen fuel cells- no gasoline internal combustion engine. Judges commented that they are impressed by the progress that CSU has made and excited to see a running vehicle at the year 2 competition.

If CSU is able to complete the vehicle within the expected schedule, it will be the first demonstration of a functioning hydrogen vehicle in year 2 of the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions. A total of 15 teams from around the country are involved in the EcoCAR competition.

Hit the ground running

The CSU VIT received valuable feedback on different aspects of the vehicle design and construction that will allow the team to successfully compete at Yuma, Ariz. in May.  Immediately following the inspection, the CSU VIT hit the ground running on completing the H2eV build and testing phases.

Students demonstrate innovation

Thomas Bradley, the CSU EcoCAR 2 faculty advisor noted that, “The students should be very proud of their work to get the vehicle prepared for regional inspections,” and that, “the presence of dozens of inspectors from U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, and General Motors speaks to the level of scrutiny that CSU students’ design and development work is receiving.  Our students’ work is demonstrating CSU’s unique brand of innovation to this broad and influential audience.”