The Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) took an overall second place on May 22 during the first year of the four-year EcoCAR Mobility Challenge.

The team also received second place for their presentation on propulsion system integration and tied for first for their architecture selection report.

The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge is the latest U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) series that provides a real-world training ground for students to gain hands-on experience following a multiyear vehicle development process to design, integrate, and refine efficient mobility solutions, essentially putting the student in the driver seat.

At the close of the spring semester, the Virginia Tech student team competed against 11 other North American universities to apply advanced propulsion, electrification, and a SAE Level 2 automation to improve the energy efficiency, safety, and consumer appeal of the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer. An SAE Level 2 automation refers to a vehicle that has combined automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but the driver must remain engaged with the driving task and monitor the environment at all times.

The first year’s challenge required teams to conceptualize and design the technology they will incorporate into their vehicles. Virginia Tech's 2019 Blazer is scheduled to arrive in August when the team will begin work on hardware and software modifications to meet the challenge goals.

As part of the program, competing teams receive vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring, and operational support. Teams also receive software, training, technical and logistical support, and hardware from competition sponsors, such as General Motors, MathWorks, the Department of Energy, and others.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Doug Nelson receives an award for 25 years service to Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions
Doug Nelson, professor of mechanical engineering, receives an award for 25 years of service to Advanced Vehicle Technology competitons.

Doug Nelson, professor of mechanical engineering, and Pretap Tokekar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, both in the College of Engineering, are the team’s faculty advisors. 

At the close of the first year competition, Nelson was honored by General Motors and event organizers for 25 years of service to AVTCs during a faculty advisor’s dinner that was also attended by Ed Nelson, associate dean and chief of staff of the College of Engineering, and several former HEVT team leads. Many of the Virginia Tech alumni spoke highly of their experiences and of Nelson's leadership.

Other team members include: project manager Davide Ceritano and engineering manager Daniel Budolak, both graduate students in mechanical engineering; graduate research assistants Clay Mangette, of electrical engineering, and Christian Tollefson and Rishit Modi, both of mechanical engineering; Jacob Levin, a rising senior in communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; Kish Jadhav, a senior in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and physics in the College of Science; and Thomas Legg, Alec Husemeier, and Seung Hyun Yang, all seniors in mechanical engineering.

- Written by Rosaire Bushey