By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University is producing a documentary on its EcoCAR team set to release in summer 2013, chronicling the efforts that have made the team a perennial success.
EcoCAR is a collegiate advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) that the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors established to reduce vehicles’ environmental impact. The MSU EcoCAR program has placed first on the national level two of the last four years, taking first place in 2010 and 2012, third in 2009, and sixth in 2011.
David Garraway, video program manager for the MSU Television Center, said the team makes a strong documentary subject not only because of its continued success, but also because of the career opportunities it has generated for its members. He said the EcoCAR team exemplifies teamwork and practical application of skills learned in class.
“The EcoCAR documentary project is a way for the university to showcase a motivated, resourceful group of students who pair classroom education with hands-on experience to create a truly remarkable vehicle,” Garraway said. “The skills learned through the competition in the fields of engineering, communication, education, business and project management will have a lasting impact on the EcoCAR participants. In addition, the high job placement opportunities resulting from team participation mean that MSU is placing our graduates into a rapidly growing technological field.”
Kimberly Torries, MSU EcoCAR outreach coordinator, said the documentary also showcases the AVTC program’s support for students and the positive impact it can have on students. She said Garraway has been with the team every step of the way as it prepares for the 2013 competition.
“From dropping the engine to stripping the Malibu to our battery pack development, Mr. Garraway has really stepped up and committed a great amount of his time to this project,” Torries said. “Of course, the team had a few reservations (about) the documenting process. There are certain things that would hinder our competitiveness should other teams know about them. However, Mr. Garraway has shown that he is committed to keeping these things secret until the documentary airs next year.”
The team may be keeping its secrets close to its chest for now, but Garraway said working with the students has still been a pleasure.
“The entire team has been very open to being a part of the project and have been quick to contribute storylines and project updates,” Garraway said, “allowing the documentary team to really understand the work occurring at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.”
Garraway said he began production in summer 2012, when the stock Chevrolet Malibu the team will modify into its next EcoCAR arrived on campus. The production team will follow the EcoCAR team all the way through the rebuilding process to the national championship in Yuma, Ariz. and San Diego, Calif. in summer 2013.
“The documentary shoot will finish at the conclusion of the competition in Arizona and California, with post-production immediately following,” Garraway said. “It is my hope the documentary will be ready for broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting in late July or early August of 2013. The team hopes to have a local premiere in Starkville, as well.”
Garraway said several MSU departments have supported the documentary, including the MSU President’s Office, CAVS, the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, the MSU Career Center, and more. Without their help, he said, the documentary would not have come as far as it has.
Torries said she has seen parts of the documentary footage and enjoyed them. She said this footage can be found on the Youtube channel MSUEcoCAR2.
“It looks great so far, and we’ve been astounded by how quickly Mr. Garraway has grasped all of the complex processes and technical jargon to create such a good representation of the (EcoCAR) process,” Torries said. “I think this documentary will really help show more students what all EcoCAR has to offer as well as show the people across our state how we are helping shape the future — both our own and the future of the auto industry. The program truly changes students for the better, and we want as many people to know that as possible.”