Frequently Asked Questions

EcoCAR is North America’s premier collegiate automotive engineering competition that challenges up to 14 North American universities to engineer a next generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) that utilizes automation and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity to implement energy efficient and customer-pleasing features and meet the decarbonization needs of the automotive industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks. Argonne National Laboratory serves as the competition manager and administrator.

The EcoCAR EV Challenge is a four-year competition that will launch in fall 2022 and will conclude in spring 2026.

Schools located in the continental United States and are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) are eligible to apply. In addition, schools located in Canada and are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEBA) may also apply.

Up to fourteen schools will be selected to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge.

Each proposal will be evaluated on the submitted materials by a panel of government and industry experts. The evaluation criteria for the proposal can be found in Table 3 and Table 4 of the RFP PDF document.

The full PDF document of the RFP can be downloaded from the website: www.ecocarEVchallenge.org and can be found in the tab “Apply”

EcoCAR will offer broad opportunities for a diverse range of universities to participate and will offer extensive support to enable selected university teams to be successful. New universities will also receive seed money for program initiation support and be paired with industry mentors, subject matter experts and veteran EcoCAR teams to enable new team success. Minority serving institutions will receive significant support as described in the university RFP.

Universities submitting a proposal will be notified whether they will be accepted into EcoCAR in March 2022. The Dean of Engineering and Lead Faculty Advisor(s) of accepted schools will receive an official acceptance letter.

The number of students on each team varies, with most teams having between 50-80 students. The leadership of the team includes 8-12 key students.

The competition organizers – comprised of ANL, DOE, General Motors and MathWorks – determine the vehicle platform that makes the most sense for the competition.

Each year, winning teams will share more than two dozen awards across numerous engineering, outreach and sponsor-related categories, totaling more than $100,000 in industry-provided prize money. However, the most highly valued prize may be the employment and collaboration and networking opportunities with the sponsors that the program provides. While EcoCAR is much like a first job in the industry, many students graduate with stronger prospects for a real one, regardless of how their vehicle placed.

A key mission of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) is to provide student enrichment and education through experiential learning and supplemental training. Students gain hands-on, real-world experience in AVTCs as well as access to various enrichment opportunities.

Benefits to participating AVTC students:

  • Hands-on, project-based learning
  • Real-world Global Vehicle Development Process
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration across the university
  • Partners students with seasoned industry mentors and subject matter experts
  • Provides access to state-of-the-art testing facilities
  • Prepares graduates with leadership skills needed to enter the industry fully prepared for careers that will help shape the energy and mobility industry for years to come
  • EcoCAR graduates are commanding higher salaries than their peers – average between $4k-$15K more (depending on degree) after graduation
  • (depending on degree) after graduation

Sponsors provide hardware, software, training, and support the teams need to integrate technologies into their competition vehicles. This arrangement gives students access to components and systems that might otherwise be unavailable or too expensive for them to use. Sponsors are able to promote their technologies and observe how they perform during rigorous and innovative use.

Sponsors have the opportunity to meet, work with, and recruit hundreds of the nation’s most motivated and talented engineering students. Because of their participation, these students have extensive experience using the sponsored hardware and software prior to entering the workforce. Sponsors also have the opportunity to develop partnerships with government, industry, and academia.

Yes, teams are periodically visited by competition organizers, their GM & MathWorks mentors and other sponsor mentors. There are a series of progress reports throughout the year that keep organizers and judges up-to-speed with the teams’ development. Additionally, they also receive technical support and mentoring at workshops throughout the year and the annual competition.

EcoCAR is pursuing a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including women and other Under Represented Minorities (URM) who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. EcoCAR is working to redress inequities that serve as a barrier to equal opportunities within the program.

In addition, the competition intends to provide between $250,000-$500,000 to minority severing institutions as well as $10,00 in DEI seed money to universities to implement their DEI plan and develop a successful team.

EcoCAR includes a Communications component as part of the competition to mirror a real-world communications model in which many disciplines and professions must come together to form a cohesive functional organization. By including communications- and business-related deliverables, we provide real-world learning in areas of public relations, marketing, and business applications, in addition to engineering principles. This gives students a more complete understanding of not only the vehicle design and build process, but also the challenges of supporting such work through public product communication.

EcoCAR includes a project management component as part of the competition to mirror a real-world business model in which many disciplines and professions must come together to form a cohesive functional organization. By including management-related deliverables, we provide learning in areas of program management, budgeting and business applications, in addition to engineering principles. This gives students a more complete understanding of not only the vehicle design and build process, but also the challenges of supporting such work through product project management.

The Project Manager’s (PM) role is to provide management and planning responsibilities for the overall project, so that the team can operate more efficiently and better align with business and automotive industry practices. The PM will develop the overall project timeline and work plan and is responsible for tracking and executing all project-level activities, knowledge transfer, and recruiting and retention activities. The PM also works with the rest of the team to manage all the team sponsorship and fundraising activities.

Should teams choose not to keep the vehicle, arrangements will be made to have the vehicle crushed.

Over the past 33 years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has sponsored 12 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) in partnership with the North American auto industry. Managed by Argonne National Laboratory, AVTCs represent a unique coalition of government, industry, and academic partners who join forces to explore affordable energy efficient mobility solutions. DOE manages and sponsors these competitions to educate the next generation of automotive engineers and accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies of interest to the DOE and the automotive industry.

Featuring opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students, these competitions stimulate the development of advanced propulsion systems and connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies and provide the training ground for the next generation of automotive engineers. Students work with donated production vehicles to improve energy efficiency while balancing factors such as emissions, safety, utility, and consumer appeal. Extensive data is collected to measure the real-world performance of the advanced technologies and benchmark their developmental status.

AVTCs provide significant technical and educational benefits to DOE and the nation. More than 27,000 students from 93 educational institutions in North America have participated, gaining real-world, hands-on experience tackling the toughest challenges facing the mobility industry.

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