Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' recap: Kristen De La Rosa

For more than 25 years, the U.S. Department of Energy has sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions in partnership with the North American auto industry. EcoCAR 3 is a new, four-year competition that seeks to develop the next generation of automotive engineers. It will launch in Fall 2014.


  1. With the deadline to apply for the next Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) approaching, Kristen De La Rosa, Director of AVTCs for Argonne National Laboratory, sat down for a "Ask Me Anything" chat.  All chat hosts are required by reddit to provide a "proof shot" so participants know it's the real deal. Kristen happily complied:
  2. What is EcoCAR 3, you ask? Check out this video about the next student competition:

  3. As mentioned, EcoCAR 3 is a four-year competition, which is a different time frame from past competitions. Some redditors wondered what effect this would have.
  4. How are the year's goals broken down? In EcoCAR 2 Year 1 was dedicated to design, Year 2 integration and Year 3 refinement. How will this change for EcoCAR 3?
  5. EcoCAR 3 will expand to a four year vehicle development process. Year 1 will still primarily include design, with year 2 heavily focused on integration and initial functionality. The third year will focus on meeting performance, consumer acceptability and environmental impact goals for the vehicle. The fourth and final year will push teams to implement and showcase their new innovations and technologies while achieving a fully-refined vehicle. As a result, year 4 will include significant vehicle testing and an over-the-road event. A more comprehensive description of the 4-year VDP will be reviewed with EcoCAR 3 teams in April 2014.
  6. Proposals were sent out to all accredited engineering universities in North America. One new feature of the proposal is a Vehicle Powertrain Modeling and Design Problem. How can a university successfully complete the modeling problem?
  7. Yes. We have developed a set of online learning modules related to automotive focused model based design that are freely available to the public. The course can be found here: " class=""> . You will need to create an account in order to register for the course, but signup is free and easy. The modules are intended to provide both faculty and students the opportunity to gain a fundamental understanding of model based design, specifically how to create plant models and develop supervisory control algorithms for hybrid vehicles. We highly recommend this course to teams who are interested in applying to EcoCAR 3 with little or no experience with model based design.
  8. #ModelBasedDesign for #VehiclePowertrains educational modules are NOW LIVE! #avtc
    #ModelBasedDesign for #VehiclePowertrains educational modules are NOW LIVE! #avtc
  9. The learning modules, developed by AVTC graduates, are intended to be used by engineering students new to EcoCAR 2 and/or students who are planning on completing the modeling and design problem as part of the EcoCAR 3 proposal. The course covers the basics of building models for hybrid vehicle powertrains, including traction batteries and hybrid system control. The course is intended to provide a fundamental level of understanding of model-based design techniques in an automotive application. In addition, the course is available to anyone who has an interest in learning about model-based design.
  10. Should the focus of the RFP modeling problems be on model accuracy or more focused on methodology, technique, and problem solving approach?
  11. Excellent question. The focus should be on methodology, technique, and problem solving approach. However, model accuracy is also an important factor to consider when developing simulation models.
  12. Two new aspects of EcoCAR 3 are innovative design and cost into student vehicles. What type of technologies will be implemented, and how will cost be evaluated?
  13. What technologies would qualify as innovative? Would adaptive control of A/C systems be something you’re looking for? Or something more extreme, like GPS based hybrid control?
  14. Our intent is to allow EcoCAR 3 teams to propose one or more innovative technologies that they would like to research and develop for EcoCAR 3. As long as the technology can be applied to the automotive space, we will be willing to entertain it.
  15. With cost to be a competition consideration, can you comment on how it will be evaluated in proposal evaluation and then later in competition scoring? Is the emphasis on eventual production vehicle cost impacts and trades against customer operating cost savings or on the costs of development and implementation in the prototype vehicles? Will guidelines or procedures for estimating costs be provided?
  16. In EcoCAR 3, component cost will be introduced as a design constraint in the competition. The focus will be on unit cost rather than development or prototyping costs of components. The idea is to introduce a tradeoff between the cost of powertrain components and the resulting performance benefits derived from those components. The Vehicle Powertrain Modeling Design Problem will be evaluated on the merit of the discussion of the tradeoffs between the unit cost of components and the resulting benefits.
  17. Let's get down to the specifics! What type of components will university teams receive? What about the  type of engine? 
  18. What GM engines will be able to use?
  19. The components that GM makes available have not been determined yet. At a minimum, we think GM will provide an E85 engine a Diesel engine, a selection of North American designed and built transmissions and possibly other components. We can confirm that GM will NOT offer any of their electrified transmissions or HV batteries. Before teams begin the process of selecting a powertrain configuration in Year 1, specifications and information about the engines and transmissions will be available to teams. For reference, in EcoCAR 2, GM made one E85, one diesel, and one gasoline engine available for teams to use.
  20. Performance data, schematics, diagrams, CAD, and serial data information will be made available to teams to assist in understanding and integrating components GM elects to donate or make available. Also, each team participating in EcoCAR 3 will have a GM Mentor who can enable access to subject matter experts at GM and help teams approach the design questions they will face in working with the donated vehicle and components.
  21. @wsuecocar2 checking some wires during Day Three at the #ecocar2 #y2competition
    @wsuecocar2 checking some wires during Day Three at the #ecocar2 #y2competition
  22. The different types of fuels were also discussed during the chat:
  23. Will there be any consideration given to diesel fuel with bio content above B20? B100 or similar would offer the potential to significantly reduce WTW GHG impact. Given that many of the vehicles will be plug-in hybrids, there are many possibilities to use waste heat to preheat the fuel and overcome the potential gelling problems.