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Feature Story | Energy Systems Division

Vehicle competition jumpstarts DOE career

Competition organized by Argonne for DOE propels a project graduate to a rising star status in DOE

Steven Boyd began his Department of Energy (DOE) career 11 years ago, but his work with advanced vehicle technologies began long before then, when Boyd was a university  student competing in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC), a series managed  by Argonne National Laboratory.

Boyd first became involved in the AVTC FutureTruck competition while pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. In FutureTruck, Boyd worked with peers to redesign a full-size SUV powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Boyd then stayed for the next competition in the AVTC series, Challenge X, in which students worked to re-engineer a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox. While a graduate student in the Challenge X competition, Boyd’s team took first place. Being involved in the AVTC allowed him to meet DOE sponsors, who saw the hard work he put into the competition, and upon graduating, he received a job offer from the Department.

Boyd says his time spent in the competition taught him how to solve problems and address issues in a short time-frame, skills that enabled him to deal with challenges not unlike those he faces day-to-day in his new role as Program Manager for Batteries and Electrification within DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO).

Addressing new challenges and applying critical thinking to unforeseen issues are always useful skills,” said Boyd, in reference to what he learned while in the competition. Those challenges are always real, whether something’s broken on a vehicle in front of you, or an issue arises while managing a portfolio of R&D projects.”

In his current role, Boyd maintains VTO’s portfolio of research projects for batteries and electric drive technologies, along with grid and charging impacts for electric vehicles. Boyd said he is excited to be leading a program that is on a good trajectory and is an integral part of the future of automotive technology.

I think the future will ultimately lead to battery electric vehicles,” said Boyd. The challenges we are working on is lowering the cost of these vehicles while continuing to work on improving systems, and the interaction of these vehicles with the power grid through charging.”

A Chevrolet Camaro, the vehicle that students competing in EcoCAR 3 must redesign into a hybrid-electric car.

Boyd has stayed involved with AVTC competitions throughout his career in the DOE, and is now on the Executive Steering Committee for EcoCAR 3, the latest competition in the series. He also judges AVTC events and enjoys seeing the ideas students come up with as the technology changes over the years. He credits Argonne with making the competition into one of North America’s premier collegiate engineering competitions.

The AVTC series, now in its 30th year, has been managed by Argonne since its inception. Boyd has visited Argonne many times over his DOE career, and said he’s looking forward to working with Argonne even more within his new role.

I’ve seen a lot of what the Lab has been doing over the years, and I really respect the long history of research and the excellent capabilities it has in the energy storage area, which I’m looking forward to learning more about,” said Boyd.

 

EcoCAR 3

Argonne National Laboratory has managed collegiate vehicle technology competitions for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for more than 30 years. The latest of these, EcoCAR 3: An Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition is a four-year collegiate student competition and the only program of its kind.

Established by DOE and General Motors, and managed by Argonne, the competition challenges 16 North American universities to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric vehicle that will further improve energy efficiency and environmental impact, while maintaining the safety and performance expected from this iconic American car.

For more information about the EcoCAR 3 competition, visit https://​avtc​series​.org/​c​o​m​p​e​t​i​t​i​o​n​s​/​e​c​o​c​a​r3-2/ or the competition blog at www​.green​garage​blog​.org.