MSU EcoCAR 3 team earns top 5 ranking

Contact: Zack Plair

Mississippi State’s EcoCAR 3 team recently competed among 16 university teams in Yuma, Arizona, and San Diego, California. The team placed fifth in the Year Two competition and earned top honors for project management. (Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s EcoCAR 3 team earned a top five finish at this year’s national competition, as well as high marks for project management.

The team placed fifth overall among 16 competitors recently in a two-stage contest held in Yuma, Arizona, and San Diego, California. Mississippi State took top honors for project management, including awards for Best Project Management Plan, Best Change Management Plan, Best Winter Workshop Project Status Presentation and Best Competition Project Status Presentation.

“It’s really nice to see the fruits of our labor,” said project manager Stephen Hayes, a graduate student in industrial engineering from Birmingham, Alabama. “We have made improvements from year one, and we also can see potential for future improvements to our project.”

Sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, the four-year competition, which began its third iteration in 2014, gives teams the chance to build a powerful, fuel efficient machine. The first year focused on architecture for a hybrid electric 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, while year two allowed teams to install parts in their competition vehicles according to their designs. Next year, teams will fine-tune their cars and the final year of the EcoCAR 3 competition will focus on marketing.

Randy Follett, the team’s faculty adviser and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the program provides a highly competitive opportunity for students to learn a variety of skills, including automotive engineering, leadership, academic outreach and teamwork.

“I have been very pleased to see how the current group of students has worked together to overcome obstacles and challenges,” Follett said.

The MSU team’s design involves converting a snowmobile engine to run on E-85 fuel. Ultimately, the team hopes to increase the Camaro’s fuel economy to 60 miles-per-gallon without sacrificing its factory-bestowed 323 horse power.

Hayes said the team, which includes 135 student members from more than a dozen majors, already has taken steps to start refining its vehicle. In year three, he said the team also plans to implement an innovative water injection system that he said would cool the engine’s combustion temperature while increasing power and fuel efficiency.

Overall, Hayes said he’s proud of the team’s improvement over the past year.

“It’s neat to see students with such different backgrounds come together like we have,” he said. “No single background could complete this entire project.”

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