ECE’s Continues Impact by Assisting with EcoCAR EV Challenge

June 28, 2022

Mississippi State University will be one of 15 universities in North America to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge that begins in Fall 2022, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) will continue with its integral role.

Dr. Randy Follett

ECE Associate Professor Dr. Randy Follett has had a long history of involvement with MSU’s EcoCAR, and Associate Professor Dr. John Ball will be advising the student-led team in the new EcoCAR EV Challenge.

“This is an incredibly involved student competition that aligns well with the research directions of the department, college, and the entire university in the areas of autonomy and intelligent systems,” Follett said. “Our faculty advisors over the years have provided support to the student teams in terms of setting up leadership structures and performing all of the design, analysis and implementation of the team-based designs.”

Follett said the hands-on engagement is important for students in providing valuable perspectives and experiences for students, especially those who are interested in the automotive industry.

“The multi-disciplinary nature of the team provides the students experience in working with a wide variety of technical and non-technical team members,” Follett said. “Over the last few years, EcoCAR students in the Bagley College of Engineering have averaged about $5,000 higher starting salaries than other Bagley students who were not involved in EcoCAR. There has also been a 100% job placement rate for EcoCAR graduates who have sought a job in the automotive engineering industry.”

In addition to announcing the 15 university participants, the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks also revealed that General Motors is providing each team with the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ for the competition. The EcoCAR EV

Dr. John Ball

Challenge is managed by Argonne National Laboratory.

As the EcoCAR advisor, Ball will assist the team in its initiatives. He said the team is tasked with making the Cadillac LYRIQ all-wheel drive, as well as giving it autonomous capability to navigate intersections, drive on highways, and have adaptive cruise control.

“I’m excited because the students learn expertise out of their disciplines. They learn the General Motors production process, how to manage a large project, how to assess risks and plan, and how to work together as a team,” Ball said. “It will be a challenging project, as what they have asked the teams to do is hard. I love tackling the hard problems.”

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has provided at least the lead faculty advisor for the team since involvement in the Challenge-X competition (2004-2008), followed by EcoCAR (2008-2011), EcoCAR 2 (2011-2014), EcoCAR 3 (2014-2018), and the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge (2018-2022).

Students interested in becoming involved with EcoCAR should reach out to and look for information sessions at the beginning of each semester, particularly in the early fall, to join the new EcoCAR EV Challenge team.

The full press release on EcoCAR EV Challenge and the list of the 15 universities may be viewed online.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Mississippi State University consists of 27 faculty members (including 6 endowed professors), 7 professional staff, and over 700 undergraduate and graduate students with approximately 100 being at the Ph.D. level. With research expenditure of the department in excess of $11.94 million, the department houses the largest High Voltage Laboratory among North American universities.