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The Aggie Recharge team at the Greenpower event

2019 USU Greenpower Electric Car Team

A team of Utah State University students built a prototype Greenpower electric car to compete in the 2019 Utah Greenpower Electric Car Challenge. USU STARS! GEAR UP grant one partnered with the Sustainable Electrified Transportation Center (SELECT), to sponsor the team of college students and involve them in an exciting engineering project. The team, called Aggie Recharge, included seven first-year college students interested in pursuing careers in engineering or computer science who graduated from GEAR UP high schools in 2018.

Mentors from SELECT, a part of USU’s College of Engineering, worked with students over the spring semester to retro-fit a used F24 Greenpower kit car with the new technology. While the car looked like the other cars built by middle and high school students, that is where the similarities stopped. This car was capable of wireless charging using a pad in the roadway connected to a battery charged by solar panels. The car served two functions in the event, first, to help the USU students become involved in a cutting-edge applied engineering project and, second, to show students this emerging technology at the race.

Students walking around the E.V.R track

Students on the track with Ryan at USU's EVR facility

Students get their first look at the car they will be rebuilding

Introduction of the used F24 Greenpower kit car

The car was powered using batteries taken from an electric car

Heidi worked on batteries salvaged from an electric vehicle

Solar panels were used to collect energy to power the car

Solar panels charged the batteries at the race

The Aggie Recharge team demonstrated their car for the other students at the Greenpower event

After the race, teams learned about the charging pad and receiver on car

Working with student mentors at SELECT

Long before the students arrived on a cold January afternoon to start working, Ryan Bohm, lab manager and senior lab engineer, and Benny Varghese, graduate research assistant for USU Power Electronics Lab/SELECT, organized a team of students and recent graduates to serve as mentors for the project. These mentors led weekly focus groups in the areas of electrical/computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer programming.

Students who showed an interest in designing and building the Greenpower car visited the SELECT center’s Electric Vehicle & Roadway (EVR) Research Facility, a state-of-the-art facility at the forefront of wirelessly charged electric vehicle and roadway technologies. There they took a tour, met Bohm and other members of the engineering mentoring crew, and learned about the technology.

Safety first, followed by design and fabrication

Once the students signed on to work, they joined a focus area and a mentor, based on their interests. Laboratory safety policies and procedures were a big part of the process of getting started. Besides to the rules, communication was key. Bohm and his team wanted each student to be able to describe what they were working on at any given time. They used a project management program called Wrike to assign and track the completion of tasks.

Early on in the process, the mechanical team examined the car and made a list of repairs that were needed, such as fixing the front tire and mirrors. Some parts would need to be designed and fabricated since the car was designed with batteries onboard. The car was also tested to see how much power the engine produced.

The mechanical engineering team used Siemens SolidEdge, a 3D modeling system, to create designs for parts that would be added to the car. A small array of solar panels charged a battery pack which would in turn charge the car. These batteries were salvaged from a hybrid electric vehicle, and reconfigured for this new use.

Getting a move on, wireless power from charging coils

A pad on the roadway received a charge from the battery pack with the stored energy that was then transferred to the car, while in motion. This meant that computer and electrical engineering were a big part of the car’s redesign. Electronics needed to be added to the vehicle that were able to receive the wireless power from the charging coils on the roadway pad.

The computer science team needed to track the power that the car was receiving and make that information available in web and mobile apps. The computer team used Arduino, an open-source hardware and software product to create a sensor to measure voltage from the battery on the car. An iPad on-board the car served as a “dashboard” for the car, indicating available power. Much of this equipment communicated through Bluetooth-enabled web and mobile applications that were programmed by the team.

The car also needed to log test hours before going to the Greenpower event. Two drivers, Anna and Heidi, drove the car during the build process to fulfil this requirement. Meanwhile, a speed sensor was added to the car, as well as a foam nose cone for safety. Team members worked through the night before race day to make sure that everything was complete and in good working order.

Decorative

2019 USU Greenpower Electric Car Team

A team of Utah State University students built a prototype Greenpower electric car to compete in the 2019 Utah Greenpower Electric Car Challenge. USU STARS! GEAR UP grant one partnered with the Sustainable Electrified Transportation Center (SELECT), to sponsor the team of college students and involve them in an exciting engineering project. The team, called Aggie Recharge, included seven first-year college students interested in pursuing careers in engineering or computer science who graduated from GEAR UP high schools in 2018.

Mentors from SELECT, a part of USU’s College of Engineering, worked with students over the spring semester to retro-fit a used F24 Greenpower kit car with the new technology. While the car looked like the other cars built by middle and high school students, that is where the similarities stopped. This car was capable of wireless charging using a pad in the roadway connected to a battery charged by solar panels. The car served two functions in the event, first, to help the USU students become involved in a cutting-edge applied engineering project and, second, to show students this emerging technology at the race.

Students walking around the E.V.R track

Students on the track with Ryan at USU's EVR facility

Students get their first look at the car they will be rebuilding

Introduction of the used F24 Greenpower kit car

Working with student mentors at SELECT

Long before the students arrived on a cold January afternoon to start working, Ryan Bohm, lab manager and senior lab engineer, and Benny Varghese, graduate research assistant for USU Power Electronics Lab/SELECT, organized a team of students and recent graduates to serve as mentors for the project. These mentors led weekly focus groups in the areas of electrical/computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer programming.

Students who showed an interest in designing and building the Greenpower car visited the SELECT center’s Electric Vehicle & Roadway (EVR) Research Facility, a state-of-the-art facility at the forefront of wirelessly charged electric vehicle and roadway technologies. There they took a tour, met Bohm and other members of the engineering mentoring crew, and learned about the technology.

The car was powered using batteries taken from an electric car

Heidi worked on batteries salvaged from an electric vehicle

Solar panels were used to collect energy which was then stored in the salvaged batteries and passed wirelessly to the car

Solar panels charged the batteries at the race

Safety first, followed by design and fabrication

Once the students signed on to work, they joined a focus area and a mentor, based on their interests. Laboratory safety policies and procedures were a big part of the process of getting started. Besides to the rules, communication was key. Bohm and his team wanted each student to be able to describe what they were working on at any given time. They used a project management program called Wrike to assign and track the completion of tasks.

Early on in the process, the mechanical team examined the car and made a list of repairs that were needed, such as fixing the front tire and mirrors. Some parts would need to be designed and fabricated since the car was designed with batteries onboard. The car was also tested to see how much power the engine produced.

The mechanical engineering team used Siemens SolidEdge, a 3D modeling system, to create designs for parts that would be added to the car. A small array of solar panels charged a battery pack which would in turn charge the car. These batteries were salvaged from a hybrid electric vehicle, and reconfigured for this new use.

The Aggie Recharge team demonstrated how their car worked for the other students at the Greenpower event

After the race, teams learned about the charging pad and receiver on car

Getting a move on, wireless power from charging coils

A pad on the roadway received a charge from the battery pack with the stored energy that was then transferred to the car, while in motion. This meant that computer and electrical engineering were a big part of the car’s redesign. Electronics needed to be added to the vehicle that were able to receive the wireless power from the charging coils on the roadway pad.

The computer science team needed to track the power that the car was receiving and make that information available in web and mobile apps. The computer team used Arduino, an open-source hardware and software product to create a sensor to measure voltage from the battery on the car. An iPad on-board the car served as a “dashboard” for the car, indicating available power. Much of this equipment communicated through Bluetooth-enabled web and mobile applications that were programmed by the team.

The car also needed to log test hours before going to the Greenpower event. Two drivers, Anna and Heidi, drove the car during the build process to fulfil this requirement. Meanwhile, a speed sensor was added to the car, as well as a foam nose cone for safety. Team members worked through the night before race day to make sure that everything was complete and in good working order.

Race day, and the challenge was a success

As the event day arrived, so did the team, short on sleep but full of enthusiasm. The Aggie Recharge team succeeded in building a car that ran and completed the challenge, along with 23 other more traditional electric powered cars built by middle and high school students in Utah and Nevada. After the race, students crowded around the car to learn how it worked and ask questions.


Watch and listen to the USU Aggie Recharge team and their GEAR UP advisor Taylor White


Utah Public Radio reporter Ashley Rohde followed the progress of the team, talking with our 7th Year GEAR UP students about what they learned, their experiences, and their future goals for the radio series 'Driven to Succeed.'

Listen to the series and the interview:

Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Access Utah