Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dachuan Zhou (Jason)

Year: Grad student
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Shenyang Shi, Liaoning, China

Why did you join?
I love cars!

How did you hear about EcoCAR2?
Saw the flyer on the board.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of EcoCAR2?
Working together with so many excellent guys and gaining knowledge of vehicles.

What is the most challenging part of EcoCAR2?
Analyze the model of the whole vehicle using Simulink and learn from the others.

What have you learned from being on the team?
You need to work as a team member, that is to get yourself updated everyday, have the idea what the other guys are doing and focus on your job. Really, it is tough but fascinating!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's New on the Dashboard? Brandon Thayer

Brandon Thayer

Year: Freshman
Major: Mechanical Engineering intended
Hometown: Lindenhurst, IL
Division: ESS/Thermal

Why did you join?
I have always wanted to work for an automotive company and have recently decided to start thinking about alternatively fueled cars. This project is geared toward exactly what I want to do as a profession.

How did you hear about EcoCAR2?
From the Mechanical Engineering webpage

What is your favorite thing about being a part of EcoCAR2?
Being able to get experience professionally and learning all kinds of things about the design process

What is the most challenging part of EcoCAR2?
Finding ways to contribute without the experience of some of my older teammates

What have you learned from being on the team?
I have learned how to use NX, which is a modeling software, a lot about the details of the thermal system, and how to manage my time effectively by being both an undergrad and a member of the team.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Magna E-Car Systems

 While the EcoMakers have received help from all of the sponsors, one sponsor has been extremely helpful: Magna E-Car Systems. Magna E-Car Systems is a global supplier of components and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles, which offers a wide array of products including lithium-ion cells and battery packs, electric drive motors, generators, inverters, converters, onboard chargers and powertain control modules.

Purdue was one of the few universities that received an entire motor assembly from Magna E-Car Systems. This integrated motor, inverter, and gearbox unit significantly reduced the effort that our team had to expend in integrating the electric drive in the Malibu, and as a result also reduces risk. There are many aspects and complexities in integrating such a component, and by Magna E-Car Systems providing the motor as an integrated the unit, it significantly reduced the complexity of such an integration.

In addition to their generous donation, Magna E-Car Systems was also extremely helpful in providing our team with CAD drawings and quick response via email and telephone conversations. Without this help from Magna E-Car Systems, our team would not have been as successful as we have been during the vehicle design process. 

Check out our video!

The Model Wars of 2012 - The Battle of the Engines!

A humorous account of meeting deadlines by our Controls lead, Ashish Vora: 

The end of March saw the EcoMakers' Controls team scrambling frantically to meet a deadline. In case you were wondering, it was not strictly speaking a competition deadline, of which there are plenty enough, I assure you. No! this time the reason for the higher-than-usual decibel levels of music and caffeine consumption in the EcoMakers' lab, was the fact that our gasoline engine model license from dSPACE was to expire on the 30th of March. (Not exactly the Ides of March, but equally portentous for our HIL team).

So how this situation came to arise was as follows. In all our mighty pride, while we were all focused on trying to model our parallel-through-the-road drivetrain on the dSPACE ASM structure, we had conveniently ignored the fact that all our work was being done on the gasoline engined vehicle model. For those of you that haven't figured out yet, our vehicle will have a diesel engine running on B20.

So "Surprise, Surprise!" when we realized that we better switch to the Diesel engine with only 3-4 days to go before the license expired, we found out that it wasn't all that easy as we had assumed. The thing defied all our attempts at generating the torque we wanted from it! Yi Zhu and Minyu Cai, our plant modeling leads, were spotted walking around with angry bloodshot eyes, muttering incoherently in Chinese (at least I hope it was Chinese and not some half-crazed gibberish) all the while, and an advisory was sent out to the team to avoid any attempts at merry conversation with them.

What turned the tide finally was the god-like intervention of dSPACE, who immediately setup a web conference (within 24 hours of receiving our SOS email!). In one hour, Tobias and Kunal had effortlessly scrutinized our model and pointed out a significant variable that we had overlooked and set us on the path to righteous simulation! Needless to say, Yi and Minyu, having been shown the error of their ways, added another night of loud music, caffeine and sleep deprivation for good measure, and emerged triumphant and wiser, if maybe slightly scarred for life with an inexplicable and incurable addiction to Simulink blocks.

Thus was the EcoMakers plant model simulated on blood, sweat and tears!

Disclaimer: If you hadn't guessed this is a slightly exaggerated account. No blood was actually shed

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Purdue EcoCAR 2 Documentary Series

To reach out to Purdue students, the EcoMakers have begun a series of documentary showings. These documentaries focus on the environment, advanced vehicle technology and the importance of sustainability. Before the documentaries we have a brief introduction to EcoCAR 2 and it's goals, and follow up the documentary with a discussion.
The first documentary, Fuel, with the tagline “Change your fuel, change the world”, is the in depth personal journey of filmmaker Josh Tickle, who leads the viewers on a road trip into America’s dependence on foreign oil. With interviews with lawmakers, educators, activities and environmentalists, Tickle looks into our future and offers hope via a wide range of renewable energy and bio-fuels. This documentary discussed an important issue: that there is not one solution for a sustainable future, there are many solutions which must work together to meet the demands of society. From bio-diesel made from algae, to hybrid cars to electric cars which are charged by renewable energy, a world not fueled by oil can be possible. Students who attended the showing enjoyed the documentary and a follow up
discussion took place afterwards. Did we mention free popcorn?
File:Revenge of the Electric Car.jpgLast week, we showed the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car, the sequel to Who Killed the Electric Car? Revenge of the Electric Car outlines the resurgence of electric vehicles and the struggles and successes four different automakers have had in designing, manufacturing and selling electric vehicles. As we are designing our own car, we understand many of the struggles that these businesses are having. For anyone who enjoys cars, technologies and business, this documentary was very enjoyable and informative.
We will continue to show documentaries throughout the remainder of the competition, so please stay tuned for the next showing! We’d love to have you join and discuss the documentary with us afterward. Have an idea for our next showing? Let us know!

EcoMakers attend the South Shore Clean Cities Annual Meeting

In February, the EcoMakers attended the 2012 South Shore Clean Cities Annual meeting. At the Avalon Manor in Merrilville, IN, community leaders gathered for the 13th annual meeting to discuss the importance of to increasing the use of renewable energy, reducing the use of foreign oil and reducing pollution.  Two outstanding speakers, such as U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky and Mark Stoerman of Fair Oaks, discussed the goals and strategies to make businesses and communities more sustainable.  “I thought the initiatives Fair Oaks Dairy Farms is putting into place, such as using methane gas produced by cow manure to power the dairies and using the gas in their delivery trucks was really innovative and interesting,” said Dylan Schmitter, outreach coordinator for the EcoMakers. Carl Lisek, the executive director of South Shore Clean Cities, spoke of the successes of the community such as displacing 340,000 gallons of fuel and outlined future goals for the community. We enjoyed talking with members of the South Shore community and look forward to partnering with South Shore Clean Cities in the future. On the way home from the event, the students and professors that attended the event stopped at Fair Oaks Dairy Farms, and enjoyed a cheese tasting. Sustainable cheese definitely tastes better.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This Week on the Dashboard: Horch

Xinyu Luo, or Horch

Year: Senior
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Tianjin, China
Division: ESS/Thermal

Why did you join?
I joined the team because I wanted to learn something professional about car designing. And I believe that in the future traditional oil-burning cars will eventually disappear and eco-friendly cars will enjoy an unstoppable boost. This is the trend of car history, just like there are more and more smart phones over old-fashioned phones on the market.

How did you hear about EcoCAR2?
I learned this team by talking to one of the faculty of the team, Prof. Shaver. He introduced me to the team right before the first callout.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of EcoCAR2?

I can talk about cars, study knowledge about cars while earning credits! I'm a gear-head and always hope to study cars as a profession. Now my dream comes true.

What is the most challenging part of EcoCAR2?

To begin with, I think it's really challenging from every way: we are still undergrad students, we don't have fully developed knowledge basis. And we are full-time students which means it's not actually a full-time job to design our car, we have to keep balance between working on the EcoCAR2 project and our daily class. But the most challenging part I think is that we are not belong to any company, any prestigious company. You know, for a design process of a car, it's not the work for a car company alone, it's a work done in a collaborating way with all components-suppliers. So if you wanna design a car, you always need to communicate with all the colleagues from battery suppliers, motor suppliers and so on. It's a collaboration but it's also a battle or a game. You sometimes have to show some strength over all your suppliers so that they can design out something you need. You give them the budget and performance requirement and they will do it. However, we don't have such privilege like that. All we can do is to order some available parts on the market from our suppliers. Our suppliers are good. I mean they can provide what they currently have to us for free, they are generous. But it's just not the way it should be in real life. And sometimes, just because they provide something that we're not particularly in favor of, for the sake of budget, we still have to swallow them. If this is the case, actually it always is, we will be rendered in an awkward position when we still need to design something fantastic.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This Week on the Dashboard: Cai Minyu

Cai Minyu

Year: Senior
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Shanghai, China
Division: Control

Why did you join?
Have some experience about control
Many friends in the team

How did you hear about EcoCAR2?
From friends

What is your favorite thing about being a part of EcoCAR2?

Work in an international team with some interesting and brilliant guys

What is the most challenging part of EcoCAR2?

From my perspective, change the Simulinke model of the whole car

What have you learned from being on the team?
How to use Simulink to model a car