In the last year, the EcoCAR 2 team at Purdue has experienced a chaotic mix of meetings, simulations and computations. Team leader Haley Moore wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love the chaos. I love not knowing what’s going to happen day to day. I love the unknown,” Moore said. The mechanical engineering technology graduate student from Hanover, Ind., thrives on the problem-solving aspect of the competition.
Purdue is one of 15 teams across the nation chosen to compete. The competition challenges teams to convert a Chevrolet Malibu into a hybrid, electric or fuel-cell vehicle to reduce its environmental impact without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.
Moore started her duties as team leader in Spring 2011 as a senior. During her undergraduate years, her internships and extracurricular activities focused around the automotive industry.
“I was a central engineering intern with General Motors in the Bowling Green, Kentucky assembly plant. We got the phone calls to fix things,” she said. “I got to see all sides of the automotive process. It made me so interested in the day-to-day operation. So, I thought the EcoCAR 2 position would be a great experience to see if plant management is what I wanted to do. I look at EcoCAR 2 as an internship experience but on campus instead of in a plant.”
It is also a chance for Moore to hone her design and leadership skills. She has helped with the design of the battery box, which needs to safely contain and cool one of the vehicle’s power sources. As part of her master’s thesis, she will study the effectiveness of the team’s design and expand on it to create her own design.
The battery box is one part of a very complex system the team is creating. When the team receives its vehicle from General Motors this summer, it will be fully operational. But within a few days, they will remove everything under the hood and start adding in their own components and designs. To receive the car, the team has to ensure that their designs work in computer simulation.
“We’ve been able to design an architecture that has not been seen in the same fashion before,” Moore said. “Our faculty advisors have been able to assist us to come up with something different. We have a lot more resources as a university than a lot of the other schools competing do.”
The EcoCAR 2 team, with nearly 40 members from across campus, will continue to develop and test the car over the next two years. At the end of the second and third years, all teams will gather and compete in a weeklong competition of engineering tests.
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