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PhD Students' Experiences are Impacted by NEXTCAR

For Shreshta Rajakumar Deshpande and Shobhit Gupta, working at CAR benefits more than their professional careers. “After working at CAR for more than two years now, it has become a second home for me,” says Gupta.

Rajakumar Deshpande and Gupta are doctoral candidates in Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University. Their work on the ARPA-E NEXTCAR* project at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is shaping their studies, their future careers, and the future of connected and automated vehicles.

NEXTCAR (NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles) is a three-year project led by The Ohio State University in collaboration with Delphi Technologies, Tula Technology, Transportation Research Center (TRC) and APTIV. The project aims to improve connected vehicle technologies and ultimately improve hybrid-electric vehicles’ fuel economy by 20 percent.

Gupta and Rajakumar Deshpande develop optimization algorithms that leverage connected and autonomous features like look-ahead route and traffic information to improve energy management and consumption in hybrid electric vehicles. Both PhD students are impacted by their work on this project and their time at CAR.

Shobhit GuptaShobhit GuptaGupta was drawn to CAR because of the opportunities it presents. “One of the fascinating things about CAR is the interdisciplinary research and the opportunity to interact with leaders from both academia and automotive industry while working on cutting-edge research projects,” says Gupta. When Dr. Marcello Canova added Gupta to the NEXTCAR project, he began participating in interdisciplinary research himself.

“Working with the NEXTCAR team, I got the opportunity to not only develop theories and solutions but also to deploy them on a test vehicle at a test track, which is the most satisfying part for a researcher,” says Gupta. His work with NEXTCAR has also inspired his long-term career trajectory. “After my graduation, I hope to join the E-Mobility/CAV-related research group of an automotive company. My long-term aspiration is to become an expert in the area of powertrain electrification. I want to apply the knowledge and experience I have gained at CAR to solve real-world problems and contribute in driving the automotive sector towards cleaner, more efficient and smarter vehicles.”

Shreshta Rajakumar DeshpandeShreshta Rajakumar DeshpandeRajakumar Deshpande values his time at CAR for the challenges he has been able to take on. “The NEXTCAR project is unique in that it calls for not just the development of sophisticated vehicle control strategies in simulation, but also the demonstration of these algorithms in a production vehicle. The ambitious nature of this 3-year program has facilitated my growth as a PhD student, through which I have built a strong background in control and optimization theory, and modeling of dynamic systems. Further, the on-board deployment of our optimization algorithms has helped me appreciate the interaction between complex control systems and have helped me grow as a mechanical engineer.”

After graduation, Rajakumar Deshpande plans to keep advancing research in connected and autonomous vehicles. His career ambitions to work in a transformative and innovative space that pushes the boundaries of the automotive industry began at CAR. “CAR, and in particular, my advisor Marcello Canova, have given me learning experiences that extend far beyond the confines of research projects and coursework. They have made me a better thinker, a better engineer and helped me push the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of doing.”

Those experiences will endure, even as Rajakumar Deshpande moves forward in his career. “The friendships at CAR, the collaborative learning, and the self-discovery are things that will stay with me, now and always.”

Written by Georgia Drost, CAR Writing Intern