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Ohio State’s EcoCAR takes 2nd place at final competition in Washington, D.C.

The Ohio State EcoCAR team has placed second in the final competition for EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a three-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition established by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors.

The EcoCAR competition, managed by Argonne National Laboratory, challenges 16 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles by minimizing a GM-donated vehicle's fuel consumption and reducing its emissions while retaining performance, safety and consumer appeal. Students use a real-world engineering process to design and integrate their advanced technology solutions into a 2009 GM vehicle. The overall winner was announced at an awards banquet held tonight in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress.

“Our team is very happy with our second place win,” said Katherine Bovee, a team co-leader and mechanical engineering graduate student. “The Ohio State team undertook a pretty large technical challenge. We reprogrammed our own engine controller and our own supervisory controller and integrated a lot of other components. We really succeeded thanks in part to the large team effort we had, and we got all the components donated to us from mostly external companies.”

In addition to the final standings, the U.S. Department of Energy announced several other awards tonight. The Ohio State team took:

  • second place in the Mathworks Modeling Award for creative application of MathWorks software products.  
  • second place in the dSpace Award for demonstration of the most effective use of dSPACE HIL equipment to simulate vehicle architectures and develop their control strategies.
  • best controls presentation award.
  • NSF faculty advisor award: Shawn Midlam-Mohler, adjunct assistant professor.

EcoCAR teams were recognized with a number of different awards during the final competition, which began June 6 at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Michigan before traveling to Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Honors earned by the Ohio State EcoCAR team include the Bosch Diversity Award, Best Collaboration with Clean Cities Award, Freescale Innovation Award, Best Social Media Outreach Award, second place in the Mathworks Award and second place overall in Outreach. The Women in the Winner Circle Foundation “Outstanding Women in Engineering Award” was earned by Ohio State EcoCAR member Katherine Bovee, a mechanical engineering graduate student and team co-leader. In all, the Ohio State team is returning home with scores of trophies and more than $23,000 in prizes.

“This competition provides students with a unique opportunity to further their education and be involved in the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, faculty advisor to the Ohio State EcoCAR team and director of the university’s Center for Automotive Research. “The most important outcome is the outstanding graduates who have had the benefit of participating in this competition. They will strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. automotive industry, and over the course of their careers they will contribute innovations and technical advancements to the U.S. automotive sector.”

The Ohio State EcoCAR placed first overall in the 2009 Year 1 competition and fifth overall in the 2010 Year 2 competition. The team implemented an extended range electric vehicle capable of both pure electric operation up to 40 miles and a series for parallel hybrid operation over greater distances. The original design includes a specially modified engine, fueled by E85, two electric motors, and an advanced lithium-ion battery pack. More details about the Ohio State vehicle are available on the team’s website.

The top six overall winners for the 2011 Year 3 competition:
First Place: Virginia Tech
Second Place: The Ohio State University
Third Place: University of Waterloo
Fourth Place: Penn State University
Fifth Place: Missouri University of Science and Technology
Sixth Place: Mississippi State University

The Ohio State EcoCAR team already has been accepted into EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future, the next competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors.

“When we started out in year 1, we were a small team. The team really grew because our leaders and advisors invested a lot of time,” Bovee said, noting that the team has about 40 active student members. “We’ve built upon a lot of momentum, and our win this year will continue into next year and kick off EcoCAR 2 well.”


Giorgio Rizzoni, faculty advisor,, 614-570-1149
Shawn Midlam-Mohler, faculty advisor,, 614-307-4176
Abbey Underwood, Ohio State EcoCAR team Outreach Coordinator and marketing student,
High-resolution photos available from Joan Wall,, 614-292-4064.

About the next competition
EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future, is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind. The competition's mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. The competition challenges 16 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.  Established by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, EcoCAR 2 builds upon a successful 23-year history of energy department Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions that exemplify the power of public/private partnerships in providing invaluable experience and training to promising, young minds entering the North American job market. EcoCAR 2 follows the widely acclaimed competition series EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge.