Since 1995, Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) has worked to create solutions for transportation problems that are both sustainable and cost-efficient. Operating from the Ware Lab, HEVT is committed to challenging students to apply critical thinking and problem solving in new and innovative ways.
HEVT is broken up into three main subteams: Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), Propulsion Controls and Modeling (PCM) and Propulsion Systems Integration (PSI).
The CAVs team focuses on handling aspects of the design, such as implementing wireless communication and tracking objects in real time. The PCM team is responsible for maintaining the system safety and the overall operation while also creating the software used in all the vehicles designed. The PSI team works to design and implement components of the vehicle as well as vehicle testing.
Virginia Tech graduate Will Hom has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and is a project manager for HEVT. Hom’s experience with design teams started at BOLT, which focuses on electric motorcycles.
“(HEVT) is a great environment to be in if you’re an engineer interested in electric vehicles,” Hom said.
The leadership within HEVT is broken down into faculty advisers, managers and swimlane leaders. The managers oversee different aspects of the project (engineering, communication, etc.) There are three swimlane leaders, each responsible for a different subteam.
“The PSI leader deals with a lot of the mechanical design work on the vehicle itself. They (the PCM leaders) deal with all the modeling and coding to control the hybrid system. They (the CAVs leaders) handle the connected and automated vehicle systems… to make the car able to communicate with stop lights and other smart infrastructure,” Hom said.
HEVT’s latest goals are to “implement advanced hybrid power train technologies and … improving vehicle safety,” Hom said.
HEVT competes in challenges like the U.S.Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition. Currently, the team is working to prepare for the EcoCar Mobility Challenge with sponsors like the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks.
The EcoCar Mobility Challenge is a four-year competition that challenges university design teams to improve efficiency, safety and overall appeal of the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer using advanced propulsion systems and vehicle technology.
“As a member of the team, students get to apply what they learn in the classroom to real world engineering problems,” Hom said.
HEVT offers several opportunities to its team members. Students can volunteer, participate and count the work they do toward an independent study program or their senior design project and more.
Undergraduate students can apply in the spring recruitment cycle; there is an application and interview process to join the team.
To students interested in joining the team, “just go for it,” Hom said. “(Being on HEVT) has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my time in college; it’s been fun.”