Learning is an active and dynamic process. It needs to be experiential, mindful, and engaging. That’s why innovative learning opportunities like the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition's (AVTC) EcoCAR 3 are so important. As learning institutions around the nation continue to face difficulties providing their students with the skills required to thrive in the competitive industry 4.0 environment, real- world competitions like EcoCAR 3 are providing students with the tools, knowledge, and experience necessary for them to find career success.
The EcoCAR 3 competition is a unique, four-year long event that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, Siemens PLM software, and managed by Argon National Labs. Comprised of 16 competing North American schools, this latest installment in the AVTC series is considered to be one of the world's premier automotive engineering programs for university students.
The EcoCAR 3 competitions four-year time frame is not the only thing that makes it a one of a kind experience for students. This AVTC competition provides students with an in-depth, inside look into industry 4.0 best practices, requirements and expectations. What’s more, this competition opens the door to a variety of lucrative opportunities for students as they approach graduation.
According to the most recent data from the organizers of the AVCT competition series, graduates who have participated in AVCT competitions like EcoCAR 3 earn up to $14,000 more annually than their peers who have not participated in an AVTC competition. Furthermore, 38% of students who have participated in the EcoCAR 3 and other AVCT competitions are now employed in the automotive industry, 41% have found a career in other engineering fields, and 21% have found employment in other business industries.
Gaining access to an abundance of high paying job opportunities in highly sought after industries is one reason why EcoCAR 3 appeals to students, but it is just one of many reasons why students are dedicating their time and effort to this hands-on learning experience. The EcoCAR3 competition allows students to gain valuable experience with industry favored tools like Siemens Teamcenter and NX software, as well as software provided by mentor graphics. Learning how to proficiently use these tools will help Students develop relevant skills that will help convert them from job hunters into in-demand and highly employable talent.
Take this year’s winner of the Siemens PLM excellence award, Andrew George, for example. When asked for his thoughts on Siemens PLM software, Andrew stated, “Siemens NX and NX Nastran have allowed me to take the design knowledge I already had to a professional level. It has enabled the creation of components that I am proud to display in my portfolio, as well as given me the skills to work in an industrial environment.”
He continues, stating “Teamcenter PLM software has allowed our team to grow beyond the limits of simple file sharing, as it allows the increasing number of designers to work seamlessly together while protecting our data from overwrites and conflicting copies. It is always exciting to be able to bring more people onto the project, and so this for me is the most important role Teamcenter has played on our team.”
For the last three years, Andrew has participated in the EcoCAR 3 competition as a member of the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR 3 Team. Despite the demands of completing his Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s degree, Andrew has dedicated much of his time to developing his technical skills through the EcoCAR 3 competition.
“EcoCAR3 has been an essential part of my education throughout my entire university career. Specifically, it has allowed me to apply many of the concepts learned in the classroom to a real-world project. This allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of the theory, as well as grasp how the theory can be applied to industry application” –Andrew George.
Thanks to his dedication and innovative work, Andrew and the McMaster Team were able to win the Siemens PLM excellence award at this year’s competition final. The Siemens PLM excellence award was designed to acknowledge and reward students who have demonstrated an in-depth understanding of Siemens PLM software products as well as excelled in the use of PLM software to contribute to the design and development of their team’s vehicle.
Photo shows The McMaster Engineering EcoCAR3 Team leads meeting GM CEO Mary Barra in person for the first time while they work on their hybrid vehicle.
There is no doubt that the future looks very bright for Andrew and students like him who have participated in the real world training that competitions like EcoCAR 3 provide. Not only are these students now positioned to be leading innovators in the expanding engineering design and manufacturing industry, but thanks to the hands-on experience and skill development the AVTC competitions provide, students like Andrew feel more confident than ever walking into today’s job market.
“Siemens PLM Software is the industry standard in so many disciplines, and having the skills to use it effectively are a great boost to my employability.”