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West Virginia University EcoCAR team selected to compete in new EcoCAR EV Challenge

Andrew Nix, Brian Woerner, Colin Kellett and Kaycee with the 2023 Cadillac Lyric.

Left to right: Andrew Nix, faculty adviser; Brian Woerner, co-lead faculty adviser; Colin Kellett, engineering manager; and Kaycee Kiser, communications manager.

Following four years of implementing energy efficient technologies and placing amongst top performing universities each year as part of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, the West Virginia University EcoCAR team has been selected to participate in a new four-year competition that will test students’ ability to engineer a next generation battery electric vehicle.

Story by Adrianne Uphold, Multi-Media Specialist


Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors and MathWorks, the EcoCAR EV Challenge is the latest DOE-sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition series. WVU is among 15 universities selected to design and engineer a battery electric vehicle for the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ that utilizes automation and vehicle-to-everything connectivity to implement energy efficient and customer-appealing features.

“The WVU EcoCAR team is looking forward to continuing our work in energy efficient vehicles with a focus on connected and automated vehicle features,” Andrew Nix, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and lead faculty adviser for EcoCAR, said. 

The EcoCAR team is a collaborative cross disciplinary project from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral ResourcesReed College of Media and John Chambers College of Business and Economics. The new competition will challenge the WVU team to apply innovative solutions to address equity and electrification challenges in the future of mobility and implement advanced powertrain, charging and thermal systems to use grid electricity intelligently. 

The four-year program will model industry-best practices with expanded focus on vehicle connectivity, simulation and controls development to enable cooperative driving automation. 

The challenge will include a major focus on equity in mobility and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to help foster clean energy mobility solutions and opportunities for all. Teams will be challenged to identify and address specific equity and electrification issues in mobility through the application of innovative hardware and software solutions, outreach to underserved communities and underrepresented youth to increase awareness about advanced mobility and recruit underrepresented minorities into STEM fields. 

The WVU team will be heavily engaged with the Statler College DEI Committee, with collaborative efforts from Chairperson Cerasela Zoica Dinu and Meshea L. Poore, Esq., WVU vice president for DEI.

“From the very beginning, the team’s goal was to use this opportunity as a vehicle to improve diversity and inclusion in engineering at WVU,” Poore said. “Together, we crafted a plan to find, recruit and retain talented underrepresented students and give them access to this amazing experience. Now that this opportunity is here, I look forward to working with them to make their ambitious diversity and inclusion plans a reality.”

General Motors will donate a 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ to each team, challenging them to design, build, refine and demonstrate the potential of their advanced propulsion systems and CAV technologies over four competition years.

Students from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will have the chance to work on autonomous driving technologies to develop a vehicle that is safe, energy efficient and has a strong consumer appeal, according to faculty co-lead Brian Woerner, professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

“Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to prepare them for careers in the automotive and related industries,” Woerner said. “Top employers have told us that students moving from the EcoCAR program into industry often have skills comparable to engineers with two or more years of experience.”

Colin Kellett, a graduate mechanical engineering student and EcoCAR engineering manager, said the key difference between the two competitions will be the full implementation of an electric powertrain. 

“In EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, we designed a hybrid vehicle, but this will be the first competition with our team that will feature a fully electric vehicle,” Kellett said. “Simulations and research will influence our electric architecture in the first year of the competition whereas in years past we had to select a conventional powertrain and electric powertrain.”  

The WVU team will follow a real-world vehicle development process to meet rigorous technical milestones throughout the program and will compete head-to-head with other teams in annual competition finals, with the series concluding in 2026.

"I am excited that our team has been accepted into the EcoCAR EV Challenge and I am very proud of the students, faculty and staff that are part of our team,” Glen H. Hiner Dean Pedro Mago said. “Student competition teams such as EcoCAR provide students with invaluable experiential learning, real-world and hands-on opportunities, and as Dean, I continue to provide strong support to EcoCAR and other student groups in the college." 

The current competition, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, challenged teams to improve the efficiency of a 2019 Chevy Blazer crossover by fitting it with advanced propulsion systems and electrification tech. The current competition will conclude in summer 2022, and the WVU team will begin the new EcoCAR EV Challenge in fall 2022.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135