Monday, November 19, 2012

Update from alumni Whitney Belt

The EcoCAR program helped me tremendously by not only increasing my knowledge with the current state of hybrid electric vehicle HEV technology, but it also gave me a better understanding of all of the background tasks required to design a HEV. My current job is in the rotational Ford College Graduate program at Ford in the Sustainable Mobility Technology department where I will go through various systems design, controls design, and testing programs in their current and future hybrid projects.
                Going into EcoCAR 2: Plugging Into the Future, I had a lot of experience with the function and operation of standard gas and diesel powered vehicle and low voltage (LV) systems. I was a GRA for the Purdue EcoMakers, and was in charge of leading the design of the HV energy storage system (ESS) for our parallel-through-the-road (PTTR) architecture as well as helping the powertrain teams. I had not worked with any hybrid propulsion or high voltage (HV) systems, so I had to do a lot of research to catch up to speed. Fortunately, the EcoCAR program provided an endless supply of knowledgeable contacts for any questions as well as all of the programs that we would need to accomplish the task accompanied with training for all of them. The program also connected teams with a large number of HEV vendors which gave us access to all of the equipment that is available to automakers. All of this gave me a huge head start in comparison to other entry level applicants in the job market as I was more knowledgeable about what products and technologies are available as well as I had experience with most of the tools that they use in their design processes.
                Along with technical gains, I also grew in the area of project management. I had previous experience on smaller projects with groups of four to five people, but this project required that I manage teams of twenty to thirty people with little to no prior automotive or electrical experience in order to design a crucial part of our hybrid architecture. In doing so, I learned how to properly train and task team members so that the overall project would be completed on time. Another part of project management entails collecting data through simulations and writing reports summarizing the results. This was a huge part of EcoCAR 2 as we were required to compose reports detailing every step of the design process. All of these tasks helped me with my current job in that reports are a crucial part of the design process in a large company as well as being able to manage a project and delegate tasks in order to meet a deadline.

Kyle Lindenman (alumni), Dr. Motevalli, and Whitney Belt

Monday, November 12, 2012

Engine Removal from the Project Manager's Perspective

As most of you saw, the engine removal we thought would go smoothly did not (OK so I was hoping it would go smooth…project managers always hope things work out!) We had planned to drop the engine out from the bottom of the car because of the way the car was assembled. Based on feedback, we were told this would be easy. But then reality set in. I was able to get one of the bolts holding the cradle in the car, while Chris was not. Chris tried the other two bolts with no luck. He went back to the original bolt and kept trying to get it out. It eventually moved about ¼ of an inch. Then it got stuck. We continued to use the impact wrench to attempt to get it out to no avail. What we didn’t know is that when we did all of this, we actually cross-threaded the bolt, broke the nut, and stripped the head. So then we had to switch our plan and start to drill a hole in the nut to try to fully fracture it with the idea that the bolt would then just fall out. After breaking three drill bits, we decided to call it a night. We came back the next morning with a brand new corded drill, new drill bits, two car jacks and the determination that the bolt WILL come out. After we jacked the engine and the frame up, we began drilling again. After 30 minutes, we decided to give the impact wrench (with a smaller socket) another try. And this time, the bolt came out as it should! After celebrations and determining it was Zhi’s cookies that gave us the power to get this task done, we got the other bolts removed and realized that we were almost there. After disconnecting a few more parts and lines, we were able to lift the car from the engine and cradle. Cheers erupted in the lab with excitement that it was finally out.
This was a great learning experience for all students involved. Very few of the students had removed an engine before, so they got the experience of doing this. For others, they had not dropped an engine from below the vehicle. From my standpoint, I was incredibly impressed by the problem solving skills shown by the students when we had the issue with the bolt and nut. Ideas were being thrown out constantly, students were leaving to do get tools from home they thought might fix it, and discussions about what to do were constant for about 2 hours. And I knew the problem solving discussions were amazing when people were asking how we knew to do what we did. This team never fails to amaze me in their dedication and determination to solve issues that come up. 

Check out our Facebook page for more pictures of our dis-assembly process, as well as our YouTube page, which includes time lapse videos of the engine removal.

  Team members after removing the engine from the vehicle
Garrett giving a "Thumbs up" on finally getting the engine out!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lauren's Fall Workshop Experience

Although nearly a month and a half has passed since I attended the fall workshop in Boston, I still can't stop thinking about the amazing experiences I had with my team members and the other EcoCar 2 teams. As a brand new member of the Purdue EcoMaker team, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had only been on the team for a little over a week before I was off to Boston. Once I landed, I was greeted by Jose, our business manager, and we took a nice little adventure to the train station. We took the train to Natick and finally made it to the hotel. This is when the fun began! I met up with the team and attended the meet and greet that night. Immediately I hit it off with the Rose Holman team and we made plans to hang out later that night! The rest of the week was filled with Communication Workshops where I received basic PR training, media training, instruction on how to use a video camera and edit video footage, as well as other basic communications training.  

During the PR training we received a basic guide to successful public relations. This included learning the difference between advertising and public relations, the “do’s and don’ts” of working with the media as well as a glossary of common public relations terms. During the media training, we met one on one with media professionals and learned all about how to get the media involved in EcoCAR as well as the best way to set up interviews with them. Afterwards, we participated in a mock interview where we were videotaped and were able to watch our interview afterwards. This gave us a lot of feedback and was extremely helpful. During our video training we were supplied with a basic hand held video camera where we were taught the basic functions of how to use the camera. After the instruction we had an hour to walk around and practice different filming techniques and then met back up with the group and viewed everyone’s film. This also provided helpful feedback. 

This workshop and all the training I was able to participate in was extremely helpful and gave me skills that I will use for the rest of my career in PR. In addition to this it gave me the opportunity to represent Purdue and grow as a member of Purdue EcoCAR and was an amazing four-day experience. I will never forget the friends I made and I absolutely cannot wait to reconnect with everyone at the winter workshop in January!

Green Week Alternative Transportation Expo

Green Week was officially a success for the EcoMakers. The Alternative Transportation Expo proved to be a great way for our team to get students educated and involved in our efforts with EcoCar2! With a table set up from 10:30 am until 3:30 pm, team members posted up in the beautiful memorial mall handing out cups and pencils, explaining the competition and our cars unique architecture, and getting other boilermakers excited about EcoCar2.

In addition to these, we also had a few other surprises. These surprises included the EcoMakers official mascots... the Purdue EcoCats! Harry and Liam really helped us out by attracting students who may not immediately be as interested in AVTCs over to our table. Once there, we were able to get the word out about EcoCar2. This was a fun and unique way for us to advertise ourselves, the competition, and our sponsors. Another way we attracted students was with pizza! I mean, who doesn't love pizza?

Another way we attracted students was with pizza! I mean, who doesn't love pizza? Overall, the Expo was a huge success. It was a way for our team to get to know each other better, have fun, and get the word out about the EcoMakers and our efforts with the EcoCar2 competition!

Friday, November 2, 2012

EcoMakers and OSU Tailgate Event

Despite a cold and rainy day, the EcoMakers managed to throw a great tailgate with the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University for the Purdue/OSU football game. With lots of food, hot chocolate and OSU’s cars, a great deal of discussion went on between the teams. Jokes and stories were shared amongst the teams, and we even got some tips of mistakes not to make while fabricating our car (thanks for those y’all!) Some of the students even got to experience some of the great traditions that OSU has for their football games. Several people even stopped to ask us questions about the cars and what EcoCAR 2 is all about! It was great to be able to have some fun with a great group of students for a change (instead of sitting in a lab all day). After the tailgate, we got to experience a game at the well-known Horseshoe! It was a close game, but as many of you know, OSU came out on top. We were extremely proud of our Boilermakers though for their great game!

We are very grateful for the amazing hospitality that the folks on the OSU EcoCAR 2 Team showed to our team! We cannot wait to host y’all here in West Lafayette next year and to show you how the Boilermakers do it! And a big shout-out to Sarah Jadwin’s parents for being our cooks for the day. Y’all were awesome and we are so grateful for your input into our great experience at The Ohio State University!

EcoMakers and OSU Team Members

EcoMakers at OSU!