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Update: Ohio State EcoCAR 2 at Final Competition: Days 8 and 9

The OSU EcoCAR 2 team is wrapping up its final competition in Washington, D.C. Here we bring you the latest updates straight from the frontlines.


Friends of OSU EcoCAR 2:

The Ohio State team flew through the judged presentations on Monday and Tuesday.  I apologize for the length of the message, but I thought that you might enjoy my observations.

On Monday, Eeshee Shah (BS ME, minor in Mathematics), gave the General Motors Outstanding Women In Engineering presentation, continuing the proud tradition that has seen Beth Bezaire, Katherine Bovee, Amanda Hyde and MJ Yatsko win this award in recent years.  Eeshee is just a sophomore, and the youngest team team member at the competition.  Eeshee is a member of the mechanical (engine) team, and has also assisted the electrical team.  During the course of the year she assisted with fabrication of mechanical parts, and installation and assembly of mechanical and electrical components, and also participated in testing.  Eeshee has developed a passion for automotive engineering by working on her 1969 Chevy, performing engine overhaul, brake system replacement and transmission modifications.  She has been involved in many of the team outreach events, and started her involvement with the team as a senior in high school.  Just like her predecessors and mentors, Eeshee sets a brilliant example for young women, and will continue to grow in leadership roles on the EcoCAR 3 team.

Katherine Bovee (MAE, PhD student) and MJ Yatsko (MAE recent BS graduate and incoming MS student) started the day on Tuesday with the Controls Presentation at 9:30.  Katherine and MJ reported on all the successes of the sophisticated control design executed by the team, as demonstrated by a flawless performance of the vehicle during dynamic testing at the GM Milford Proving Ground, explaining the strategy and architecture of the control systems, and emphasizing the unique solutions implemented in the OSU vehicle, including custom controllers for the E-85 high-compression ratio engine and the automated manual transmission; the control of the electrically heated catalyst; and the supervisory control of the various hybrid and electric modes of operations.  During dynamic testing the vehicle demonstrated utility factor weighted fuel economy of 2.7 liter/100 km (better than 80 mpg), and emissions significantly lower than those of the production Malibu. These results matched the predictions made in the modeling and simulation stages, and demonstrated the sophistication of the team in implementing successful control algorithms in a vehicle of considerable complexity.  MJ and Katherine went on to describe functional safety, diagnostics and fault remediation, and showed results obtained during pre-competition testing at TRC and on public roads, and at the competition.  It was evident from the questions at the end of the presentation that the judges were impressed.

At 10:30, Sarah Jadwin (BS Accounting) gave a sparkling presentation on the team’s Communications achievement, planned and executed by Sarah with the assistance of all team members during outreach and media events, as appropriate.  The goals of out team’s communications campaign were to: 1. Increase the knowledge and understanding of the EcoCAR 2 competition and advanced vehicle technologies in all target audiences; 2. Alter the perception of advanced vehicle technologies in terms of performance, safety, cost and utility; and 3. Develop and maintain positive, collaborative relationships with key individuals and organizations to aid influencing target audience opinions of advanced vehicle technologies.  Sarah’s strategy led to the completion of 81 outreach events and 54 media hits in Year 3, ranging from social media, to local (and out of state) school STEM events, to TV stories, to Student Motorsports Statehouse Day. 

Next was the Mechanical Presentation at 1pm.  Matt Organiscak (MS, MAE), and Tom Brown (BS, MAE) clearly explained how the team achieved the best reliability among the 15 competition vehicles, and a well-planned weight loss program that brought the vehicle close to the stock vehicle specifications.  With the help of the considerable amount of pre-competition testing, Matt and Tom demonstrated the success of the mechanical subsystems optimization, including the front powertrain mechanical integration, the rear electric traction unit, noise and vibrations, engine cooling and exhaust improvements, and tire and brake weight reduction.  They gave a very mature presentation, emphasizing the important role of the suppliers in the development of high-performance or low-mass subsystems (e.g.: Cooper Tire development of special low rolling resistance and low mass tires), and underscoring the team’s role as a system integrator.  Hard to argue with a vehicle design that has proven to be the most reliable at the competition…

At 2:30 Matt Yard (BS ECE, MS ME) and Andrew Huster (BS ECE and incoming MS ECE student) were responsible for the Electrical Presentation.  Matt and Andrew gave a clear account of the detailed design of high- and low-voltage power systems, and of communications and control signals and systems in the vehicle.  The presentation touched on the complexity of a 12-V system that needs to support an electrically heated catalyst (which resulted in the design of a 40-Ah Li-ion 12-V battery pack), of a power bus capable of carrying tens of kW of power while minimizing RF interference, and staying away from potentially dangerous bus resonances, of a 7-module 20-kWh battery pack, and of all the ancillary functions that insured safe and reliable operation of the vehicle electrical systems.  As has traditionally been the case, the electrical judges are very demanding, and Andrew and Matt fielded what I thought were by far the hardest questions of the day.  They were absolutely unflappable, and the judges could not find questions that were too difficult - the EE in me was actually gloating as they kept coming back with the right answer. 

And finally, at 4:15 Bryan Silverman (BS, Marketing) and Katherine Bovee gave the final presentation of the day – Business.  Bryan presented a SWOT analysis, team finances (the team budget is in the black), impact of the experience on students and faculty, and internal administrative support from CAR, the College, and the Office of Energy and Environment of the team.  Katherine and Bryan also highlighted the value of corporate partnerships, and their strategy for knowledge transfer and succession planning for future teams.  The Q&A session lasted for a long time, and was a very friendly affair.

Tomorrow there will be two more presentations for the Mathworks Model Based Design Award and for the dSpace Embedded Success Award.  These events are not part of the scoring, and I will send another report tomorrow.  The team is done as far as competition points go!

Real-time updates can be found on the team's multiple social media sites:
Website and Blog (
Facebook (Ohio State University EcoCAR 2)
Twitter account (@osuecocar2)
Instagram: @osuecocar2

In addition, the team has started a mini-video series for final competition, which can be found on the team's YouTube channel.


Giorgio Rizzoni

Faculty Co-advisor