Impact in motion

Posted: August 8, 2022

Stockar is optimizing next-gen vehicles for a more efficient, sustainable world

stephanie stockar in front of NEXTCAR vehicle in car hibay

Stephanie Stockar thrives on challenges. That’s why her research focuses squarely on one of the biggest challenges we face: Sustainability.

Specifically, Stockar is devoted to unlocking the intricacies of making cars and trucks more efficient, from saving us money at the pump to making hybrid, electric and autonomous vehicles run smoother and longer.

“There are so many problems related to optimizing a vehicle, making it more efficient,” Stockar said. “I love it, it’s so challenging. But also it has a big impact on everyday lives. Everyone drives a car, if you can save 1% on one vehicle and propagate it, you’re saving a lot of energy.”

Stockar is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at Ohio State and an affiliate to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). She uses modeling and simulation to discover how energy systems can be optimized and controlled, whether that’s tweaking the HVAC system of a Smart home or improving the powertrain in your car.

“Many of Dr. Stockar’s research topics focus on solving real-world engineering problems,” said Li Tang, advanced propulsion control senior engineer at BorgWarner. “She has an ability to balance research and development with the needs of industry to bring technologies to market.”

Tang, a former student at CAR, is collaborating with Stockar on the NEXTCAR project,  a program funded under ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy). Through NEXTCAR, researchers like Stockar are working to optimize fuel economy in connected and automated vehicles. 

It’s the second such project. In the first NEXTCAR project, Ohio State researchers improved fuel economy on a light-duty vehicle by more than 20%. The goal of this iteration aims to improve energy efficiency in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with Level-4 automation by 30%. Level-4 automation is one step below fully autonomous vehicles, meaning a vehicle can drive itself so long as a human is present in the car.

“We’re looking at how we can use this technology in the best possible way, smoothing the velocity profile, optimizing the power,” Stockar said.

Stockar said projects like NEXTCAR wouldn’t be possible without the infrastructure CAR has built.  

“It’s not just physical resources but it’s the people we have here,” she said. “The engineers, technicians, the pipeline of students, it’s an incredible amount of expertise. And what we do is very impactful. I find it very rewarding.”

Written by Writer Ross Bishoff, Ohio State Marketing and Communications 

Categories: FacultyResearch