Ohio State Fair welcomes EcoCAR Challenge Camaro

Posted: July 31, 2023

Hybrid vehicle now on display at Touch-A-Truck exhibition

individuals outside of building conversing next to a Camero vehicle
Ian Campbell speaks with a fairgoer about the EcoCAR 3

Visitors to this year’s Touch-A-Truck exhibition at the Ohio State Fair have the chance to explore fire trucks, police cars, farm equipment and, in a new addition this year, a Chevy Camaro that was turned into a hybrid-electric by students at The Ohio State University.

“We brought it specifically because it’s a cool car,” said Ian Campbell, graduate research assistant for the EcoCAR Challenge Team at Ohio State. “One of our big things is youth outreach. We want to get youth, as well as underrepresented groups, involved in STEM. By bringing a cool car, we hope to get kids more interested in these activities.”

The activities Campbell mentions include the EcoCAR Challenge, which, through a partnership between General Motors, the United States Department of Energy and MathWorks, asks a handful of North American universities to take a stock car and work to improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle, while maintaining, if not increasing, the vehicle’s performance.

According to Campbell, in recent years, teams have sought to integrate autonomous capabilities – like self-driving and self-parking – as well.

The car currently on display at the fair is the EcoCAR 3, a 2015 Camaro. The vehicle was converted from a V8

3 college studens smiling next to a Chevy Camero
EcoCAR representatives (from left): Ian Campbell, Daniel Kerscher, Maddie Wood)

stock engine to a four-cylinder engine with a high-voltage battery. By showing fairgoers the Camaro, the EcoCAR team hopes to educate the public about the automotive research happening at the university.

“It’s a good way to see what students are working on right now,” said Daniel Kerscher, a spring 2023 mechanical engineering graduate who is spending his summer working as an EcoCAR intern.

Touch-A-Truck isn’t the only place visitors can have Buckeye fun at the fair. A 20-foot-tall inflatable Brutus greets guests at the fair’s south entrance. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) supports the annual Dean’s Charity Steer Show on August 1.

The Land and Living exhibit uses interactive experiences to educate fairgoers about agriculture. And, as always, there are a variety of 4H competitions and events, many of which are supported by CFAES.

Events like the fair allow Buckeyes to share their hard work with the greater Ohio community.

“It’s a huge honor to represent the university,” Campbell said. “We try to get more people involved with programs like this.”

Having a car like the Camaro makes that easier, he added.

“It’s like my dad always told me: You can sell a young man’s car to an old man, but you can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man.”

Written by Franny Lazarus, Ohio State News