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Ohio State, Wilberforce University to partner for EcoCAR EV Challenge

Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks announce teams, vehicle

The Ohio State University, in partnership with Wilberforce University, earned a spot as one of the 15 universities to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge.  

The U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks announced the 15 North American universities and the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ as the vehicle selected for the challenge, the next DOE-sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) set to begin in fall 2022.

“The EcoCAR program has provided a unique opportunity for Ohio State students to have real-world experience in putting cutting-edge technologies to work in creating cleaner, more sustainable vehicles that are both marketable to consumers and kinder to the planet,” Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson said.

“The addition to our team of Wilberforce University will greatly increase the breadth and reach of its efforts and will make us even more competitive going forward. As the university’s namesake, the 18th Century abolitionist William Wilberforce, so aptly said: ‘We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible. … So, we will do them anyway.’

Cadillac LYRIQ“I know our EcoCAR team members are thinking big and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in ways that will benefit all of us for years to come.”

“Wilberforce University is honored to partner with The Ohio State University to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Our students, advised by Dr. Deok Nam, are extremely ecstatic to contribute to innovative research that will revolutionize the world,” said Johnny Jones, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Wilberforce University.

Managed by Argonne National Laboratory, the EcoCAR EV Challenge will be at the cutting edge of automotive engineering education, serving as a proving ground for future automotive engineers. The four-year 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 decarbonization needs of the automotive industry.

“This year, the selection process was highly competitive due to the number of outstanding applications we received from universities, big and small, across the U.S and Canada,” said Kristen Wahl, director of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) Program at Argonne National Laboratory. “We are pleased to announce that Ohio State University and Wilberforce University have partnered together to compete in the EcoCAR EV Challenge and we are excited to see what the teams will accomplish in supporting the country’s transition to clean energy and electric vehicles.”

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 over four competition years. 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.

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 and outreach to underserved communities and underrepresented youth to increase awareness about advanced mobility and recruit underrepresented minorities into STEM fields. Four minority-serving institutions, including two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will also share more than $1 million to strengthen their automotive programs and recruit and retain underrepresented minority students and faculty.

The universities selected to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge include:

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University / Bethune-Cookman University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • McMaster University (Canada)
  • Mississippi State University
  • Ohio State University / Wilberforce University 
  • University of Alabama
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Waterloo (Canada)
  • Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia University

These universities will build student teams with multidisciplinary engineering skill sets, such as mechanical, electrical, computer and software engineering. The teams will also engage students from various other backgrounds such as communications, PR, business and project management to emulate the real-world experience of working in the automotive industry. This cross-disciplinary approach is critical to success in EcoCAR and also prepares students for successful careers in the mobility sector.

“I am thrilled to be a part in the newest evolution of the AVTC series,” said Ohio State Engineering Associate Professor Shawn Midlam-Mohler, the team’s faculty advisor. “The focus on vehicle electrification, autonomy and diversity together in a single project is exactly the kind of experience we want to give our students.”

Ohio State student teams have participated in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1990 and have placed first in six of the last nine years, including EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Year One in 2019. The 2021-22 team will travel to Arizona in early May for the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge finals.

The EcoCAR EV Challenge competition will kick off in Fall 2022 and conclude in May 2026.

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