Earlier this year, we got a chance to get behind the wheel of some Chevy Camaro hybrids. The cars were designed and built by groups of college students from 16 universities in both the United States and Canada. The program, EcoCAR 3, was supported by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy. At the end of the four-year competition, the team from Ohio State University came out victorious, though that shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments of any of the competitors. Now, 12 universities — many of them repeat contenders — will compete in the next multi-year competition, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge.
The Chevy Camaro has been swapped out for the new Chevy Blazer crossover. Rather than just converting the new Blazer into a hybrid, the students will focus on the future of mobility as a whole. As stated by the organization, students will “apply advanced propulsion systems, electrification, SAE Level 2 automation, and vehicle connectivity to improve the energy efficiency of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer” all without hurting the Blazer’s emissions, safety, utility, and consumer acceptability.
That last part means students have to build cars that customers would actually want to buy. That’s why Virginia Tech University stuck a V8 in their Camaro Hybrid. Other teams used a snowmobile engine, and in a muscle car, is there really anyone who wants that? Still, the Blazers must try to meet GM’s vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
As before, GM will supply a vehicle to each team. The students will have the next four years to design and upgrade their Blazers to meet the competition’s requirements. In addition to GM and the Department of Energy, the competition will be supported by MathWorks and Argonne National Laboratory.
While engineering students will provide the majority of the team members, students from a wide variety of majors participate. If you’re at one of the following schools and are planning on pursuing a career in the auto industry, EcoCAR is a good place to start.
· Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
· Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.)
· McMaster University (Hamilton, Ont., Canada)
· Mississippi State University (Starkville, Miss.)
· The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
· University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
· University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, Tenn.)
· University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
· University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ont., Canada)
· Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va)
· West Virginia University (Morgantown, W.Va.)