Illinois Tech One of Only 15 Universities Selected to Compete in the EcoCAR Electric Vehicle Challenge



By Simon Morrow

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Logo for the EcoCAR Electric Vehicle Challenge

Illinois Institute of Technology has earned a spot as one of only 13 teams to participate in the prestigious EcoCAR EV Challenge sponsored by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors, and MathWorks.

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mahesh Krishnamurthy, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Carrie Hall, and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Matthew Spenko will lead students in a four-year project to design, build, refine, and demonstrate the potential of their advanced propulsion system implemented in a 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ.

The Armour College of Engineering team will be tasked with complex, real-world technical challenges including enhancing the propulsion system of their LYRIQ to optimize energy efficiency while maintaining consumer expectations for performance and driving experience. 

The team will have four years to engineer a next-generation fully electric vehicle that deploys connected and autonomous vehicle features to implement energy-efficient and customer-pleasing features while meeting the decarbonization needs of the automotive industry.

The EcoCAR EV Challenge complements the ongoing work of Krishnamurthy, Hall, and Spenko. Krishnamurthy's research focuses on advanced power electronics, machines, and energy storage for advanced electrified drivetrain architectures; Hall is an expert in modeling and control of advanced automotive powertrains, and Spenko is an experimental roboticist with a focus on localization integrity monitoring for autonomous vehicles.

“This year, the selection process was highly competitive due to the number of outstanding applications we received from universities, big and small, across the U.S and Canada,” says Kristen Wahl, director of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition Program at Argonne National Laboratory. “We are pleased to announce that Illinois Institute of Technology will be competing in the EcoCAR EV Challenge, and we are excited to see what the teams will accomplish in supporting the country’s transition to clean energy and electric vehicles.” 

Managed by Argonne, the EcoCAR EV Challenge will be at the cutting edge of automotive engineering education, serving as a proving ground for future automotive engineers. 

Illinois Tech will build a student team with multidisciplinary engineering skill sets, such as mechanical, electrical, computer, and software engineering. It will also engage students from various other backgrounds such as communications, public relations, business, and project management to emulate the real-world experience of working in the automotive industry. This cross-disciplinary approach is critical to success in EcoCAR and also prepares students for successful careers in the mobility sector. 

"Illinois Institute of Technology is honored to be among the cohort of schools selected to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge. We are deeply committed to purpose-driven and practice-based learning and research with industry relevance, so this competition fits beautifully within our thriving co-curricular ecosystem and will provide our students and faculty with yet another world-class experience," says Carol and Ed Kaplan Armour College Dean of Engineering Endowed Chair Kenneth T. Christensen

To promote fair treatment and full participation in STEM and higher education, diversity, equity, and inclusion will be incorporated into all areas of the competition. Teams will be challenged to identify and address specific equity and electrification issues in mobility through the application of innovative hardware and software solutions; through outreach to underserved communities and underrepresented youth to increase awareness about advanced mobility; and by recruiting underrepresented minorities into STEM fields. 

“Argonne has managed the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions program for DOE in partnership with the auto industry for more than three decades. The EcoCAR EV Challenge will build upon the program’s rich history to provide North America’s premier training ground for future EV engineers. Academia and industry both recognize the role of experiential learning in helping to prepare students for the rapidly evolving automotive workforce,” says Wahl.

The competition will kick off in fall 2022 and conclude in May 2026.