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Friday, June 22, 2012

Year 2 Kickoff Event

Wayne State’s EcoCar2 Team, the Hybrid Warriors, celebrated the start of year two of the competition on June 21, 2012.

A press conference was held in the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center lobby with attendance from the dean of the college of engineering, Dr. Farshad Fotouhi; Allan Gilmour, president of Wayne State University; Dr. Jerry Ku, supervising faculty for the EcoCAR 2 team; representatives from sponsors and representatives from various news media.

Highlights of the conference included speeches from President Gilmour, Idan Regev and Dr. Fotouhi. More importantly, the EcoCAR2 officially received the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu from General Motors.

With year 2 off to an exciting start, the team will continue to strive to “Aim Hybrid” for the duration of the competition.

For more information about this event visit:

From left to right; Dr. Jane Fitzgibbon, Dr. Jerry Ku, President Allan Gilmour, Dr. Farshad Fotouhi, Sonya Sepahban (Senior Vice President of General Dynamics Land Systems), Catherine Mitchell, Jessie LeTarte, Idan Regev, Katelyn O'Neal, Mengjia Cao, Ahmed Uddin, Kevin Snyder, Musab Al-Hadrusi, Shaun Berkeley
Written by outreach member Catherine Mitchell.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Greg Gillette: What Does the Contols Team Do?

From my involvement with Wayne State University's EcoCAR 2 team, I have learned some initial concepts used in the product design process. The EcoCAR 2 competition has also taught me the responsibilities of the controls team and their role in a product design process. Although our implementation design doesn’t use regeneration braking, the concept was discussed. Those discussions provided an understanding of the technology.    
  My introduction to the DFMEA Spreadsheet and its usefulness in the product design process served as a tangible real world example of product development. The DFMEA list all possible product failures and critically ranks them based on their effects, primarily to safety of passengers/others and functionality of the vehicle. After defining the critical nature of the failures, response algorithms must be developed to minimize the effects of the failure to passenger safety as well as drivability. These algorithms are derived in Matlab software which in turns complies and transfers the simulation model into C+ Language. The code can then be downloaded and tested on the HIL (Dspace) to assure it's working properly before being programmed into the ECU.
In our hybrid implementation design, we are not utilizing regeneration braking technology. However the topic arose with my mentor and me, and he explained to me the basic concepts of the technology. This peaked my interest to do more research and gain more clarity about regeneration braking. After discovering that regeneration braking uses the kinetic energy from ABS braking system and transfers it into reusable electric energy, I understand why this concept is so useful in hybrid and electric cars.
The chief task of the controls team is to assure the functionality of the product by deriving algorithms based on safety critical analysis that will police the system for error and mitigate the effects of the failure.  Control system teams are an integral component to the product development process. Based on the success of the controls teams' ability to minimize product failure and insure safety to the end user will determine if product is worthy for production.  
Thanks to the EcoCAR 2 competition and my mentor my educational enrichment was made possible.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WSU EcoCAR 2 Team Taps General Motors Resources to Tackle Transmission Troubles

The Wayne State EcoCAR 2 Team is fortunate to have the help and involvement of all the sponsors, at both the competition-level and team level. But for one situation we encountered, it took the expertise of General Motors to help the team isolate and solve the problem.
During the design process, WSU engineers found that the transition between electric and internal combustion drivetrains would be troublesome without some deep thought and ingenuity. The problem was that shifting from one drivetrain to the other needed to be controlled electronically, but the control for the E-85 engine’s transmission is mechanical, negating the option for electronic control as the system was configured.
The team contacted their GM Mentor, Chris Trush, for advice. Chris listened carefully to the questions of the team, and took the problem to his colleagues at General Motors. After much discussion and consultation, an answer was found. The system would employ the WSU electronic control unit (ECU) to act as a gateway between the transmission shift lever sensor and the transmission control unit in order to control the transmission range state and command neutral when the vehicle is transitioning to or from all electric drive operation.
The significance of this problem and solution was important not only to the WSU team, but to the other EcoCAR 2 teams using the Parallel-Through-The-Road design. General Motors was able to put together a presentation to distribute to all the team addressing this obstacle, and overcome a road block that affected all of them.
With this issue resolved, WSU and the other teams can move forward on their quest to produce the best hybrid design in the competition.

WSU EcoCAR 2 Team speaks to Alternative Energy Companies, Supporters
On March 30 the EcoCAR 2 team was invited to participate in the Alternative Energy Fuel Summit at Henry Ford Community College. We got the chance to meet several alternative energy champions, and learn about the important work Michigan companies are doing to decrease oil dependence.

After hearing from Mich. politicians about the economical the role of alternative energy, the summit broke into smaller sessions. Alongside Detroit’s Clean Energy Coalition the EcoCAR 2 team told attendees about the importance of hybridization and our chosen vehicle architecture.

The summit was a great opportunity to meet ecological allies and promote the importance of our EcoCAR 2 team. Special thanks to Detroit’s Clean Energy Coalition for their help, and Henry Ford Community College. The Wayne State EcoCAR 2 team would love to be invited to next year’s event.

Meet Shaun Berkeley, eh?

 Hailing from LaSalle, Ontario, CA, mechanical engineering student, Shaun Berkeley, plays a major role on the WSU EcoCAR2 team. Equipped with a degree in Automotive Product Design from Barrie, Ontario’s, Georgian College, Shaun was well prepared to function and thrive on the Mechanical team. “I have been highly involved with the vehicle architecture and package, “said Berkeley, of the tasks he has been assigned thus far. More specifically, though, Shaun has created CAD components for the new mechanical and electrical additions to the vehicle, as well as mounting and packaging of the components.

Shaun, a self proclaimed car buff has always enjoyed working on and restoring cars. It is his involvement in the EcoCar2 competition that he credits his new found understanding of each of the vehicles individual components and how they work together. Already proficient in CAD as a result of his automotive design background, Shaun has added 3d design, FEA and automation to his vast skill set. Once done with his degree at WSU, Shaun hopes to land a position in the product design department of one of the Big 3.

Shaun admits to not being as involved in the current happenings of the Mechanical team as he once was. That is because for report 5, he and his CAD skills have been lent out to help other teams prepare to submit their portion of the report. “I’ve been providing some of the other teams with CAD and dimension that they require to search for components such as rear differential and fuel tank,” said Berkeley. It is displays of leadership, dedication, knowledge and a passion to succeed like Shaun’s that will allow us to perform well in the competition. So kudos to Shaun and all of the other team members working hard to not only Aim High, but Aim Hybrid!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Charlie Takla Visits the Grand Rapids Tech Expo

Wayne State University’s EcoCAR 2 EcoCAR2 team member Charlie Takla, attended the 2012 Grand Rapids Automotive Parts Manufacturer's Tech Expo on February 10th and 11th. Nearly 80 prestigious automotive supply companies traveled to showcase new product offerings, along with their new consumer and vehicle technologies.
During the expo, Takla was able to connect with several companies in particular that were very excited to hear about the WSU Hybrid Warriors.

While networking is still taking place, expectations are good and hopes are high for sponsorship involvement with the team.
"The feedback that I got from these firms was very positive," said Takla. "These companies are also happy to hear that EcoCAR2's main objective is to educate the next generation of engineering students intending to work in the automotive industry.”

EcoCAR 2 is making big moves, and Wayne State’s team is working harder than ever to meet the challenge. At the end of the day, the students are winners already; the experiences created as part of the EcoCAR2 team allows students to think "outside the books.” These experiences are honing students' skills for a lifetime of professional growth and success.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Light Shines On for WSU

A team leader carries many responsibilities, and sometimes, too few moments of satisfaction. Leading an inexperienced team, challenged with this huge competition you must show confidence through all the hardships and difficult decisions. Your team expects you to have all the answers, and you never want to disappoint them.
As an engineer and a leader, I always feel the need to balance between pushing forward while not leaving anyone behind. I try to supply mentoring and training as much as possible at all levels. It is important to give our less experienced members a strong base, while continuing to challenge our lead members. We have reports to submit, design reviews and software releases to cope with while knowing that many of those leading these activities will eventually graduate and others will have to replace them. Continuity is the keyword and mentoring is the way to go, whether one-on-one or as a group.
This is where I usually find satisfaction. I believe nothing is more rewarding in this competition for a team or a sub-team leader than to see members growing from insecure students to confident, ready for any challenge engineers. Some of our members were terrified of MATLAB/Simulink and after a summer long training and seven months of challenges are now addicted to it. Others just accepted every piece of information without questioning it and after our “Critical Thinking” workshop keep asking the right questions and not taking anything for granted. And most of all,  members who once needed to be “spoon-fed” pick up books and find out they can learn a lot more a lot faster on their own rather than depend on others.
Seeing that light in our members’ eyes when they take another step on the “engineer’s path” is worth all those long nights. Every time I see that light, I know “Aim Higher, Aim Hybrid” is not just a motto for our team, it’s the American Dream, it’s our way of life.
Idan Regev, WSU EcoCAR 2 Project Manager