Engineering students chosen for elite EcoCAR challenge

For the next three years, a team of UVic mechanical engineering students will join a select group of post-secondary teams designing and building a fuel-efficient, low-emission car of the future.

Their quest is part of the EcoCAR challenge, a competition, sponsored by General Motors and the US Department of Energy that is limited to 16 teams from North American universities. UVic is the first team from Western Canada to participate. Natural Resources Canada is also supporting the competition.

Each team receives $10,000 in seed money in the first year, and GM donates a vehicle and accompanying car components in the second year. The students’ institutions also provide funding support and academic recognition for participation in the competition. Joining UVic from Canada are the University of Waterloo and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

“We are proud to be one of three Canadian competitors in this challenge,” says Dean of Engineering Michael Miller. “Our involvement reflects the expertise and commitment of our students and researchers to addressing the transportation challenges facing society, our well-established programs in integrated and alternative energy systems, and UVic’s institutional commitment to sustainable and environmentally sensitive solutions.”

UVic third-year mechanical engineering student Jeremy Wise was in Washington, DC, for the EcoCAR announcement along with faculty advisor and chair of the mechanical engineering department Zuomin Dong.

“This is great news, especially since we only had a week to complete a proposal once we decided to enter,” says Wise, currently on a co-op work term with Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa. “We hope to involve all UVic engineering departments and get some UVic business students involved as well.”

Mechanical engineering PhD student Leon Zhou and Jeff Wishart, a recent PhD mechanical engineering graduate, also helped prepare the proposal.

While considering all alternative propulsion technologies for the competition, the team hopes to use PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and clean diesel engine technologies.

The UVic entry will incorporate into their design as many technologies and products developed in Canada as possible.

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Keywords: engineering, students, ecocar

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