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

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