Educational Activities

EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future

EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future is the successor to EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. Established by the Department of Energy and GM, EcoCAR 2 is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind. The mission of EcoCAR 2 is to educate the next generation of automotive engineers through an unparalleled hands-on, real-world engineering experience. The competition challenges 16 North American universities to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability. EcoCAR 2 requires students to explore a variety of powertrain architectures and follow a real-world engineering regimen modeled after GM's Global Vehicle Development Process (GVDP). EcoCAR 2 teams will utilize a Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, as the integration platform for their advanced vehicle design. For more information about the student engineering program, the participating schools or the competition sponsors, please visit the EcoCAR 2 website or Inside the Green Garage blog.

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge

EcoCAR is the successor to Challenge X and is also a three-year engineering competition headlined sponsored by the Vehicle Technologies Program and General Motors (GM). EcoCAR, started in 2008 and ending in 2011, challenges students to reengineer a 2009 Saturn Vue. The Challenge is to engineer a system that reduces fuel consumption and lower emissions by using advanced vehicle technologies, such as: hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrid technology, hybrid technology, diesel technology and other advanced fueling technologies. EcoCAR also is introducing hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) and software-in-the-loop (SiL) training for its competition students. This is state-of-the-art training and allows students to mirror the real-world development process used by GM and other auto manufacturers from around the world. For more information regarding EcoCAR and its participants visit the EcoCAR Challenge website.

Green Racing

DOE has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International to create Green Racing, an initiative that uses motorsport competition to encourage the development of cleaner, more fuel-efficient propulsion systems to be used in consumer vehicles. By working with the automotive racing community to test technologies such as lightweighting, alternative fuels, and hybrid powertrains, Green Racing is proving that efficient automotive technologies can meet the performance requirements of even the most demanding customers. It also helps consumers understand how DOE and manufacturers are working to transfer these technologies from the racetrack to the driveway. The partners have developed Green Racing protocols that measure the use of renewable fuels, different technologies in one race, hybrid powertrain technologies, and pollution control systems. In 2009, the American Le Mans Series became the first automotive racing series to adopt the Green Racing protocols, and incorporate Green Racing Championship Awards for automotive industry leaders that go the farthest and fastest with the smallest environmental footprint for energy used. Through Green Racing, the Vehicle Technologies Program conducts public education and outreach across the country. For example, fans can learn efficient driving habits by playing the Green Racing simulator game, in which fans earn a Green Racing score just like the teams on the track. More information is available on the Green Racing Cup website.

Automotive X Prize

DOE has partnered with Automotive X Prize to develop an educational outreach program aimed at engaging students (kindergarten-12) and the public in learning about advanced, energy-efficient vehicles. DOE is providing $3.5 million over 3 years for the outreach effort. The Automotive X Prize (AXP) is an open competition with the goal of inspiring a new generation of super-efficient vehicles that dramatically reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. The Automotive X Prize Education Program is comprised of three integrated activities: 1) an on-line knowledge center, 2) development of a vehicle telemetry package and integration of that package with the AXP online knowledge center, and 3) launch of a national contest to harness student creativity. DOE and the Automotive X Prize's joint venture to bring automotive technology learning to our future engineers and scientists can be found on the Fuel Our Future Now website.

Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE)

DOE established the GATE initiative in 1998 to train a future workforce of automotive engineering professionals in developing and commercializing advanced automotive technologies. This education will help them overcome technology barriers preventing the development and production of cost-effective, high-efficiency vehicles for the U.S. market. DOE originally established 10 GATE Centers of Excellence at nine U.S. universities that addressed fuel cells, hybrid electric vehicle drivetrains and control systems, lightweight materials, direct-injection engines, and advanced energy storage. In 2005, DOE began a second competition to form new, or expand, existing GATE Centers of Excellence. The eight universities that received awards focused on hybrid propulsion systems, fuel cells, advanced computation and simulation, energy storage systems, biofuels, and lightweight materials. In 2011, DOE supported seven new or expanded Centers of Excellence, focused on hybrid propulsion, energy storage, and lightweight materials.

Hydrogen Education

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Infrastructure Technologies Program seeks to edify educators and students, state and local government representative, safety and code officials, citizens, and early adopters about the benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cell technologies. On the Program's website, there are basic information resources to help disseminate information about hydrogen technologies—and Increase Your H2IQ!—as well as course materials and links to additional information.