Guest Post – EcoCAR 2: The Wayne State University Perspective

Guest Post – EcoCAR 2: The Wayne State University Perspective

Multimedia from this Release

Members of Wayne State University’s EcoCAR 2 team work to prove the viability of their advanced technology vehicle.

Wayne State University’s Chevrolet Malibu is put through its paces during the EcoCAR 2 program.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 10:15am


With three years of blood, sweat and tears behind us, the past two weeks of the “EcoCAR2: Plugging in to the Future” competition finals have been bittersweet for the Wayne State University team.

As rookies in the competition, we knew that going up against veteran schools like Ohio State and Penn State would be difficult, but we saw those potential disadvantages as motivation to succeed in meeting the competition’s challenges to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy while maintaining consumer comfort and reliability in our Chevrolet Malibu.

Our team drew a lot of strength from diversity. Wayne State is an urban research university that brings in students from all over the world and our team truly reflected that. Comprised of 30 undergraduate and graduate students from seven countries, our team benefited from each member’s unique perspectives on engineering and competition work methods.

Throughout our EcoCAR journey, we had the opportunity to attend hands-on workshops and learn from leading professionals in the auto industry while working alongside dedicated faculty advisors, organizers and GM mentors who challenged us to tackle real world obstacles and prepare for professional careers.

Last month we were at the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Mich., running our car through dynamic events and testing.  While we ran into some difficulties along the way, we passed safety tech inspection on the second day and moved right into dynamic events. At the end of week one, we were one of only three schools that completed all dynamic events.

Although this was an intense competition, there has always been an overwhelming sense of camaraderie among the teams.  Everyone has been willing to help each other in crucial situations.  In Milford, we were able to help another team get through dynamic events by giving them some spare parts.  Similarly, last year a team helped us with a controls issue that could have prevented us from passing safety tech inspections.

The unique support among the teams also translated well outside of the competition. Many of the students that come through EcoCAR 2 make the big move to Michigan to work for GM. Wayne State served as an advocate for what Detroit has to offer and how passionate people from the city are about the auto industry.

This unique collaboration among academia, government and industry has been instrumental in successfully providing our team, as well as the other participants, the opportunity to gain real world experience and translate what we learn in the classroom into applicable skills for our professional careers.

Now with the final week of competition over in Washington, D.C., we’re looking forward to competing in the upcoming EcoCAR 3 competition.

Even though we did not come out on top, it’s been an honor to represent the Motor City in EcoCAR 2 and can’t wait to get started on the EcoCAR 3 vehicle, the Chevrolet Camaro!

Learn more about the Wayne State team at and EcoCAR at

About the author
Katie O’Neal is a recent graduate of Wayne State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She served as Wayne State’s EcoCAR 2 communications manager for two years. She plans to continue working in the automotive industry with the hopes to focus on marketing in sustainable transportation.