Experiential Learning with Respect to Model Based Design Applied to Advanced Vehicle Development
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With the need for greener powertrains every more present, automakers and part suppliers are lacking skill staff to fulfill design roles. It is estimated there are over 20 million lines of software code in vehicles today and many embedded controllers. The shortage of these engineers is compounded by the economic down-turn of 2008-2009, which resulted in massive 20% to 30% layoffs, reduced internships and reduction of programs designed to recruit new talent. To increase their workforce pool, automakers are working with universities and governments operate student competitions such as EcoCAR 2: Plugging into the Future, alongside traditional private/university collaborations. These programs present students with real-world engineering challenges and the opportunities to design/construction solutions. This also exposes students to the concepts of experiential learning. The objective of this thesis will be to discuss the design, construction and operation of a vehicle for a student design competition or research group at an educational institution. A process based on model based design will be undertaken, which allows for a majority of the vehicle’s design to be completed virtually prior to vehicle prototyping. In this work the model based design method is based on General Motor’s Vehicle Design Process. A project management plan is also proposed, which breaks down tasks into three technical areas (mechanical, electrical and controls) and allows for parallelization and reduced development time will also be proposed. Finally, the resources required to operate a vehicle design team will be defined. This includes the support needed from the University, physical space, software and hardware tools, safety considerations and human capital. Examples are drawn from 2013 Chevrolet Malibu converted to a plug-in hybrid vehicle with an ethanol engine and a battery pack was designed and built. This thesis will showcase the concepts mentioned above through examples from the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team and its participation in international EcoCAR 2 vehicle development competition. The conclusion is that application of the concepts did result in the successful construction of an EcoCAR 2 vehicle. Generally projects that were successful were provided with sufficient technical information from suppliers and supported with past-experiences. Recommendations include: (i) working with suppliers who are familiar with academic environments (including working with students new to vehicle design), (ii) rigorous documentation of design for future designs; and (iii) close collaboration with industry experts to review designs, manufacturing, project management and budgets.