US students challenged to design next-generation BEV

The US Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks provide $6mn in the next-generation battery electric vehicle design challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors and MathWorks are challenging US students to engineer a next-generation battery electric vehicle that deploys connected and autonomous vehicle features.

More than $6mn will be provided to 15 select universities under the four-year EcoCAR EV Challenge, including five Minority Serving Institutions, for students to pursue advanced mobility research and experiential learning. This investment supports the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students to help build an EV talent pipeline that reflects the diversity of North America.

The next DOE-sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) will begin in the autumn. General Motors will donate a 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ to each team, challenging them to design, build, refine, and demonstrate the potential of their advanced propulsion systems and CAV technologies.

Managed by Argonne National Laboratory, the EcoCAR EV Challenge will be at the forefront of automotive engineering education, serving as a proving ground for future automotive engineers.

The competition will challenge students to engineer a next-generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) that deploys connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) features to implement energy efficient and customer-pleasing features, while meeting the decarbonisation needs of the automotive industry.

"These budding energy leaders are heeding President Biden's call to get more Americans into EVs," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "Collegiate competitions like EcoCAR are critical to building a clean energy talent pipeline that reflects the diversity of America and make room for more domestic manufacturing to strengthen our energy independence." 

Teams will be tasked with complex, real-world technical challenges including enhancing the propulsion system of their LYRIQ to optimize energy efficiency while maintaining consumer expectations for performance and driving experience.

Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, North America, said as students work on the LYRIQ they are developing real-world knowledge and skills that will help accelerate their impact on the transformation of the auto industry.

"The EcoCAR program provides an exceptional educational experience for students and an exceptional talent pipeline for GM," he said.

To improve diversity in STEM and higher education, diversity, equity, and inclusion will be incorporated into all areas of the competition.

Teams will be challenged to identify and address specific equity and electrification issues in mobility through the application of innovative hardware and software solutions, outreach to underserved communities and underrepresented youth to increase awareness about advanced mobility and recruit underrepresented minorities into STEM fields.

Five Minority Serving Institutions, including two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will also share more than $1mn to strengthen their automotive programs and recruit and retain underrepresented minority students and faculty.

Lauren Tabolinsky, Academic Program Manager for MathWorks, said: "Providing the latest tools and resources for the university teams is a crucial element in educating the next generation of engineers and preparing them to begin their careers, especially with the development of EV technology."

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