Rodney Erickson Test Drives Penn State EcoCAR
If you thought you saw Rodney Erickson driving around campus Monday morning but chalked it up to not having enough coffee, your eyes didn’t fool you.
Members of the Penn State EcoCAR 2 team picked up President Erickson at Old Main in their hybrid electric car and allowed him to get behind the wheel. He drove to the Penn State Advanced Vehicle garage located across from Lot 83 on Hastings Road for an informational visit about the EcoCAR project.
Erickson, along with State College mayor Elizabeth Goreham, spoke at the event Monday morning, applauding the team for working toward sustainability and emphasizing the networking opportunity that the team now has with General Motors.
The EcoCAR team tests and refines a GM hybrid car in preparation for an annual competition in May, against 14 other schools across North America.
According to the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team website, the competition takes place over three years from 2011 to 2014. Each year the vehicles are judged on different aspects of the vehicle, including modeling, simulation, and integration of components into the vehicle.
For engineering students, being on the EcoCAR team is an opportunity not only to receive academic credit, but also to hopefully secure a job come graduation.
Tim Wilson (senior, mechanical engineering) decided to join the EcoCAR team because it was a class that allowed real, hands-on experience. “It’s nice to be able to come out to the garage and work instead of just being in a classroom,” he said. Tyler Quinn (senior, mechanical engineering), voiced the same sentiment, adding that he always wanted to get involved with vehicles and wants to “help the future” by working toward sustainability in the automotive world.
Between 50 and 70 people are involved with the EcoCAR, which includes team leader Chris Golecki, a mechanical-vehicle team, a mechanical engine team, electrical team, controls team, communications team, business team, and faculty advisers.
The project is sponsored by both GM and the Department of Energy.
Maggie McGlinchy, intern