TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Students at The University of Alabama will compete in the latest national vehicle competition that challenges students to develop a hybrid-electric, autonomous vehicle over the next four years.
UA is one of 12 universities across the country selected to participate in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors Co. and MathWorks and managed by the Argonne National Laboratory.
The team of students has the opportunity to create their version of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer by applying advanced propulsion systems, electrification, automation and vehicle connectivity to improve its energy efficiency while balancing factors such as emissions, safety, utility and consumer acceptability.
The mission of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge is to develop the next generation of engineers and business leaders who will be prepared to address the nation’s future energy and transportation challenges. These students will also accelerate the development and demonstrations of technologies of interest to the Department of Energy and the automotive industry.
“This program prepares students to enter the automotive and tech industry by storm,” said Dr. Paul Puzinauskas, lead faculty adviser and UA associate professor of mechanical engineering. “The difference between this competition and classes is the extensive, hands-on experience that turns these students into industry leaders.”
The team consists of a collaboration of engineering with project management, business and communications. This competition provides students with a real-world training ground to gain hands-on experience following a vehicle development process to design, build and refine advanced technology vehicles.
Teams will use onboard sensors and wireless communication from the vehicle’s surrounding environment to improve overall operation efficiency in the connected urban environment of the future.
Specifically, the students are challenged to implement SAE Level 2 automation, which is the ability for the vehicle to combine automated functions, such as acceleration and steering, while the driver remains engaged with the driving task and monitors the environment at all times.
Student leaders of UA’s team include Easton Davis, project manager, David Barnes, engineering manager, and Bri Roselius, communications manager.
Davis, a native of Marion, Arkansas, is a graduate student in aerospace engineering and business administration and earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from UA.
Barnes, from Fairhope, is a graduate student in mechanical engineering and also earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UA.
Roselius, originally from Houston, Texas, is a senior in public relations and advertising with a minor in computer tech and applications.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.