Ohio State-Wilberforce team places first in national electric vehicle challenge

Posted: May 30, 2023
The ECOCar team with a group photo after winning

A team of students from The Ohio State University and Wilberforce University earned first place in Year One of the EcoCAR EV Challenge. Coming in second were West Virginia University and the University of Alabama.

The four-year competition challenges students to engineer a next-generation battery electric vehicle that deploys connected and autonomous vehicle technologies to implement energy-efficient and customer-pleasing features, while meeting the decarbonization needs of the automotive industry. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks.

“Year One of EcoCAR is all about generating big ideas and developing a strategy for the remainder of the competition,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alejandro Moreno. “These students are already demonstrating the capacity and drive needed to pursue careers in the EV sector and become trailblazers in the mobility industry.”

The partnership team of Ohio State and Wilberforce, one of the competition’s two HBCUs, showed consistency in excellence across all subteams throughout Year One, earning top three finishes for 12 pre-competition deliverables, 10 of which were first-place finishes. They also notched top-3 finishes for their Project Management subteam and their DEI subteam. Bringing a trophy and $10,000 in prize money back to Ohio from the awards ceremony in Orlando, the team earned a total of 850 points out of 1000.

“The team’s complex embedded system designs were impressive,” said MathWorks Global Academic Student Programs Manager Lauren Tabolinsky. “We look forward to seeing the teams continue to use MATLAB and Simulink to build and simulate their EV designs throughout the duration of the multi-year competition.”

Ohio State student teams have been participating in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1990 and have placed in the top three in 14 of the last 15 years, including winning first place eight times.

“The team has been doing great work all year and it is wonderful to see it be recognized,” said Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Clinical Professor Shawn Midlam-Mohler, the team’s faculty advisor. “We have a lot of momentum in engineering, DEI and communications for next year. And I want to give a special thanks to Kamryn Russell, our team lead this year. She truly went above and beyond to help make this all happen.”

“I know our EcoCAR team members are thinking big and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in ways that will benefit all of us for years to come.”  “Wilberforce University is honored to partner with The Ohio State University to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Our students, advised by Dr. Deok Nam, are extremely ecstatic to contribute to innovative research that will revolutionize the world,” said Johnny Jones, provost and vice president for academic a
From left: Shawn Midlam-Mohler; Wilberforce student Emmanuel Nshimiyimana; Ohio State graduate research associate Kamryn Russell; Ohio State graduate research associate Karun Prateek Singh; Wilberforce student Patrick Rukundo; Dwobeng Owusu-Nyamekye, dean of professional studies, Wilberforce; and Johnny D. Jones, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Wilberforce

In Year Two of the competition, each student team will receive a Cadillac LYRIQ, a next-generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) provided by GM. Teams will be tasked with reengineering the vehicle to add new energy efficient and customer-friendly features designed to address the decarbonization needs of the automotive industry.  

“As a proud EcoCAR sponsor, we are honored to continue to provide the tools and training to help build the next generation of EV talent,” said GM Vice President Electric and Autonomous Vehicles Ken Morris. “As this competition progresses, we look forward to seeing how the students incorporate their ideas from this year and put their skills to the test in reengineering their Cadillac LYRIQs. We congratulate the Ohio State & Wilberforce Team on their first-year win and are excited to see what the remainder of the competition has in store.”

See all winners and awards from the Year One Competition here.