DENSO Officials Visit, Provide Support to UT’s EcoCAR 3 Team

DENSO's Emilie Denson presents a check for $45,000 to UT EcoCAR 3 team member Brent Stoner as part of the company's support for the program. UT EcoCAR faculty advisor David "Butch" Irick and DENSO Community Affairs Program Manager Melissa Smith, stand behind Denson and Stoner, respectively, while team members Nolan Perry, David Moseley, Erik Hargis, Jessica Boles, and Karson Stone surround them from left to right.

DENSO’s Emilie Denson presents a check for $45,000 to UT EcoCAR 3 team member Brent Stoner as part of the company’s support for the program. UT EcoCAR faculty advisor David “Butch” Irick and DENSO Community Affairs Program Manager Melissa Smith, stand behind Denson and Stoner, respectively, while team members Nolan Perry, David Moseley, Erik Hargis, Jessica Boles, and Karson Stone surround them from left to right.

UT’s EcoCAR 3 team got a welcome boost from a familiar place recently, as officials from the DENSO North America Foundation and DENSO Manufacturing came to campus to tour the team’s facilities and present a check for $45,000.

It’s not the first time that DENSO, a leading automotive parts supplier with a location in Maryville, has played a key role in supporting the team.

During the past decade, the company has provided $380,000 to UT’s various automotive competition teams, leading up to the current EcoCAR incarnation.

“The relationship we have with DENSO and the support they provide as a team sponsor is critical to the success of our team,” said David “Butch” Irick, EcoCAR faculty advisor at UT and research associate professor in mechanical engineering.

“They have proven to be an indispensable resource for us over the years.”

As part of the visit, Melissa Smith, DENSO International’s program manager for community affairs came from Southfield, Michigan, to meet the team, along with Emilie Denson, a DENSO project manager from Maryville.

The two were given a ride in UT’s vehicle from the last round of EcoCAR competitions and watched a presentation highlighting the program’s efforts over the years.

UT first became involved in the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions in 1989 in what was known then as the “Methanol Marathon.”

Since then, there have been eleven such competitions—EcoCAR 3 is the latest example—but that first one will always hold a special place for Irick and UT.

“Because we won it,” said Irick. “We came in first, beating out some of the top schools in the country in the key areas where teams are judged.”

While technology and innovations have changed in the twenty-six years since then, the foundation of the competition remains the same.

Teams must use their engineering and science skills to ensure their car hits marks they have predicted for fuel efficiency, performance, and acceleration, among others. The project also includes business and communications components.

Teams receive the competition vehicle, a stock 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, in November and will have just three months in the spring semester to get their vehicle stripped down and then rebuilt to enable testing in preparation for meeting the competition’s specifications.

For this round, those guidelines require them to build an environmentally friendly high-performance vehicle.

As part of that effort is to keep the consumer in mind, the team gathered data on what people expect out of a car and rolled that into their planning for spring, making the process largely akin to what a commercial car company would do when launching a new model.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)