Stay Connected Through the Green Garage


Wayne State EcoCAR 2 Team Taps Vector CANtech for CAN Network Help

During the second year of the competition, the WSU team was busy taking the high level design from the first year of the competition and implementing it through multiple low-level design & build tasks.  One of those tasks involved breaking the vehicle’s GM High Speed CAN network (HS CAN) into a pair of separated networks, with the WSU supervisory controller performing a gateway function by passing CAN messages between this new pair of HS CAN networks.  This allows the WSU supervisory controller to modify certain signals inside passed CAN messages to allow more desirable interaction between the engine and the transmission for optimally efficient hybrid operation.

The WSU team investigated a HIL expansion board and a pair of CAN gateway modules.  The team was very pleased with an enthusiastic and creative solution proposal from Mike Alexander, Academic Account Manager, Vector CANtech, Inc.  Mike and the WSU team discussed via email how a pair of CAN gateway modules might succeed in taking the existing HIL bench HS CAN and split it into a pair of separated CAN networks, just like the vehicle.

Mike had some more good news for the WSU team – WSU was actually already in possession of one of the two needed CAN gateway modules.  Mike explained that the Vector GL1000 CAN logger donated to each of the fifteen EcoCAR 2 teams for vehicle CAN logging could actually be reprogrammed and used on the HIL bench to gateway CAN messages.

The WSU team uninstalled the team’s existing GL1000 from the vehicle, leaving the connector wiring in place to preserve future drive logging capability. Then they installed a new connector with wiring into the HIL bench wire harness for easy swapping of the existing GL1000 between the HIL bench and the vehicle. Then Mike traveled to the WSU campus, visited the team’s vehicle garage and the engineering lab and helped the team get the new hardware working.

Wayne State greatly appreciates the Vector hardware and software along with the training and support which has enabled the team to collect vehicle data from the various test drives.  The team also takes advantage of the CANcaseXL hardware combined with CANoe software to easily construct and transmit CAN messages, simulating one or more vehicle electronic control units (ECU’s) for bench testing components like the ESS battery pack controller to prepare for ESS commissioning.


Local High School Reaches Out to Wayne State for Advice

This spring, the Grosse Pointe South High School Sun Devils Solar Car team met with Wayne State University’s EcoCAR 2 team. The EcoCAR 2 team offered advice on welding, aerodynamics, suspension and placement of solar panels for the high schoolers’ student-built solar car.

The Sun Devils will race in July from Fort Worth, Texas, to Los Angeles, Calif., totaling 1,400 miles, in the annual Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge. This is the school’s first year participating in the challenge.

The dune buggy-style car will run on solar panels and small lead acid batteries with a budget composed of cash in-kind donations from the community.  The team plans to begin building their car the first few weeks of summer.

The Sun Devils reached out to the Wayne State EcoCAR 2 team for advice and first hand knowledge about building and redesigning a car that isn’t solely dependent on petroleum.

Wayne State’s Hybrid Warriors were pleased to meet with the future engineering students and hope they continue working towards a clean future. Hopefully the Hybrid Warriors were able to convince the Sun Devils to attend a school with an EcoCAR 2 program.

Where Are They Now? Wayne State's Jeffrey Dean Rednour

When it comes to birthing futuristic electronic technology, Wayne State University definitely has its finger on the pulse as it competes in EcoCAR 2. Providing a practical application platform for automotive technology has allowed Wayne State students the experience to be of value in the real world. A prime example is Wayne State’s graduate student Jeffery Dean Rednour, an Ypsilanti resident who served as an EcoCAR 2 Outreach Coordinator.

These days Jeffery works for the Clean Energy Coalition, an organization that serves as an ambassador for the Clean Cities Programs in Ann Arbor and Detroit. EcoCAR 2 networking opportunities enabled Jeffery to connect with the coalition. After working with Clean Cities through EcoCAR 2 Jeffrey secured an internship in the fall of 2012. “The experience and knowledge gained can be priceless, not to mention relationships you can build,” says Jeffery, referring to the EcoCAR 2 competition.

Jeffery is completing his master’s degree in public relations and organizational communication. According to Jeffery, EcoCAR 2 has assisted his understanding of this ever-changing field by providing him an opportunity to develop and execute communication in the real world. Networking with EcoCAR 2 professionals and sponsors has helped him throughout his career.

When asked about his overall thoughts on the EcoCAR 2 competition, Jeffery said, “I encourage all WSU students who are looking for an opportunity to enrich their educational experience with a practical and rewarding extracurricular activity that can pay off in many ways throughout their lifetime to seriously consider EcoCAR 2.”



WSU Attends YES! Expo to Encourage Youth Engineering & Science

Wayne State University’s EcoCAR 2 team participated in the YES! Expo in Detroit, an event that welcomed 19,632 middle school and high school students from across southeastern Michigan for hands-on activities revolving around engineering and science.

Over 60 corporations, organizations, colleges and universities came to Ford Field to demonstrate how science and engineering pertain to their organization and the everyday world. Each exhibitor was encouraged to have interactive activities to inspire students to participate, ask questions and learn.

The expo was hosted by Oakland University and Western Michigan University and was sponsored by companies like DTE Energy, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Quicken Loans and Marathon Petroleum Company LLC., to name a few.

Team members from Wayne State EcoCAR 2 had the opportunity to educate students about the completion and the Hybrid Warriors through an interactive crossword puzzle.  When the puzzle was finished, participants received a piece of candy. The crossword puzzle asked students to answer questions about air pollution, the vehicle architecture and natural resources.

“It is great to see students excited about the expo, but it is better to see students ask questions about green energy,” said Communication Manager Jessie LeTarte. “Some students surprised themselves when they did the puzzles. They knew more than they thought, which is a good sign!”

The YES! Expo allowed individuals to gather under one roof, get hands-on and learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information about the Yes! Expo, visit



Data Acquisition: One of the Indispensable Tools of the Engineer

With Wayne State’s EcoCAR 2 Team being a new AVTCstartup student team, theVector CANtech-donated CAN loggers and CANoe software are the only CAN instrumentation the team has so far.  The CAN instrumentation has allowed the team to gain understanding of the different vehicle states and vehicle performance both in real time signal viewing and post drive analysis.

One problem was trying to determine if the team’s heavier plug in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) design would still meet the 60 mph to zero braking distance requirement.  The team’s use of the Vector donated CAN instrumentation has allowed the team to acquire braking distance data of both the stock vehicle (baseline) and also the simulated heavier vehicle design (by adding more than 350 kg / 750 lbs of cast iron weights in the trunk – to represent the additions of a battery pack, electric motor and controller, associated cooling systems, an on-board charger, and a rear differential with axle half-shafts).

With the successful CAN data capture and analysis for vehicle distance traveled and vehicle speed during several braking tests, the team determined that the heavier PHEV vehicle would be borderline for meeting the VTS braking distance requirement and that some level of mechanical brake system performance improvement would be needed in order to make sure the team is confidently under the VTS braking distance limit.

The Vector CAN instrumentation donation continues to be an indispensable tool used the team for ongoing analysis of all the component and subsystem behavior of the GM donated 2013 Chevrolet Malibu base vehicle for determining how to integrate and coordinate control of the new electric powertrain with the conventional gas engine powertrain.