STEM Spark Energy News: Vehicles


Electric Vehicles and more. Included in this issue: activities, videos, competitions, STEM Energy 101 resources, and career ideas.
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Energy Education News – May 2017 

This Issue: Vehicles – Next Issue: Buildings

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STEM Spark Energy Education News focuses on the latest energy education resources, competitions, and innovations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and highlights an energy technology each month. SHARE this newsletter or sign up here to subscribe

Vehicles at Energy Department

Electric Vehicles

The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) provides low cost, secure, and clean energy technologies to move people and goods across America. Last year, trucks transported 11 billion tons of goods, and people traveled over 3 trillion vehicle-miles. Growing our economy requires moving more people and more goods more efficiently, saving consumers and businesses money on their transportation costs. Learn more.

The Importance of Batteries


While a number of electric drive vehicles are available on the market, further improvements in batteries could make them more affordable and convenient to consumers. Some heavy-duty manufacturers are pursuing the hybridization of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve fuel economy and reduce idling. Learn more.

Transportation Electrification

Electric Vehicles

There are two basic types of electric vehicles: all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. In addition to charging from the electrical grid, both types are charged in part by regenerative braking, which generates electricity from some of the energy normally lost when braking. The type of vehicle that will fit your lifestyle will depend on your needs and driving habits. Find out which models are available.

Heavy-Duty & Medium-Duty Trucks


Long-haul tractor trailers are essential to our economy— moving more than 70% of all freight (about 11 billion tons). VTO’s SuperTruck program challenged teams to improve freight efficiency through innovations in engine technology, lightweight materials, aerodynamics, and other systems-level improvements. Teams demonstrated improvements as high as 115% over their 2009 baseline. Learn more.

Accelerating Adoption and Use of Efficient Vehicles

Efficient Vehicles

Nearly 100 local coalitions serve as the foundation of VTO’s Clean Cities program. At the local level, coalitions leverage objective information resources about alternative fuels and advanced vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption. Clean Cities' resources are available to the public and include the IdleBox toolkit—an outreach and education resource that can be used to launch an idle reduction campaign in your community.

EcoCAR 3 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition


EcoCAR 3 brings together industry, academia, and government to educate and develop the next generation of automotive engineers with hands-on, real-world experience. The competition challenges 16 North American university teams to redesign a Chevrolet Camaro to reduce its environmental impact, while maintaining the muscle and performance expected from this iconic American car. The Year 3 competition culminates in May 2017 in Washington, D.C. Learn more.

Video: Electric Vehicle Wireless Charging

Vehicle Charging

Going wireless is the dream for most electric vehicle consumers, and thanks to a project VTO is supporting with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, drivers could soon be pulling the plug on their charging stations. The lab’s wireless power transfer project recently received a special recognition award by R&D Magazine for innovation. Watch the video to learn more about wireless charging.

Cleaner, Lower Cost, & More Efficient Diesel Engines


Cummins, a leading manufacturer of diesel engines, turned to the national labs when challenged to meet new diesel engine standards. Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provided expertise in laser diagnostics, computer modeling and state-of-the-art facilities from renowned, world-class lab scientist teams. Cummins needed all of these elements to meet tighter emissions standards while staying economically competitive in the market. Read more.

Success Story: Tire Technologies Improve Efficiency

Rolling Resistance

Good tires are essential to fuel economy, which is why Cooper Tire recently developed concept tires that can improve fuel efficiency by 5.5%, supported by a Vehicle Technologies Office project. The Cooper team replaced the standard steel belt with alternate lightweight materials to reduce weight and replaced commonly used carbon black and silica fillers with innovative reinforcing fillers to minimize energy loss. In addition to exceeding VTO’s goal of improving fuel efficiency by 3%, the new tires are more than 23% (5 to 6 pounds) lighter than current tires. Read more.

Energy Talks: Energy Efficient Mobility Systems

Energy Talks

The current trends affecting our transportation system are increased population, autonomous driving, connectivity, mobility as a service, urbanization and big data. The Vehicle Technologies Office Energy Efficient Mobility Systems' (EEMS) goal is to identify and explore untapped transportation system-level efficiencies with modeling and deployment activities for Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation (SMART) Mobility, including connected and automated vehicles. In a recent DOE Energy Talk David Anderson, a VTO Technology Manager, discussed EEMS' SMART Mobility Initiative. Watch video.

Calculate Your Savings with


Use the official U.S. government source for fuel economy information to find and compare vehicles, calculate fuel economy, and get tips to cut fuel costs. Planning a spring getaway? Looking to buy a new car? provides consumers with tools and resources that can help!   

EcoCAR: Where Are They Now?


Former EcoCAR 2 participant, Noel Marshall, graduated from Colorado State University (CSU) with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2012. During her time at CSU, Marshall was a member of the CSU EcoCAR 2 program. Marshall currently works at Arrow Electronics as an applications engineer. Arrow Electronics is a global provider of products, services, and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. "The biggest thing I learned with EcoCAR was that if someone says it can’t be done or it shouldn’t be done, that’s when you should pursue it,” Marshall said. “Because it could be groundbreaking. If you push the envelope and push yourself, that’s where the growth happens, and that’s where you learn.” Read more.

Alternative Fueling Station Locator

Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels are derived from sources other than petroleum. Most are produced domestically, and some come from renewable sources.The current alternative fuels available include ethanol, electricity, biodiesel, natural gas (compressed and liquefied), propane and hydrogen. The Alternative Fueling Station Locator provides real-time station locator data to inform fleets, consumers, and other transportation decision makers.

Energy Department Student Contests and Competitions


National Science Bowl 
BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge
Earth Day Poster Contest 

Higher Education

Hydrogen Student Design Contest
Collegiate Wind Competition 
Solar Decathlon October 5–17, 2017 in Denver, CO
Race to Zero 
EcoCAR Challenge May 14–20 in Detroit, MI; May 21–25 in Washington, D.C.
Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) 

All Ages

Wave Energy Prize

School/School District

Wind for Schools
Better Building Challenge
Solar Communities Challenge 

Classroom Activities

Vehicle Technologies Activities

The Road to the Final Four 
Transportation Fuels Enigma (grades 5–12)
Transportation Fuels Rock Performances (grades 3–12)

Vehicle Technologies Videos

Energy 101: Heavy Duty Vehicle Efficiency
Energy 101: Electric Vehicles
Energy Talks: Energy Efficient Mobility Systems
Energy Talks: The Promise and Peril of Automated Vehicles
Electric Vehicle Wireless Charging

Online Resources

Battery Basics
Energy Information Administration (EIA) Energy Home 
EIA – Forms of Energy
Energy 101 Videos
Energy Literacy Videos
Energy Literacy Framework
Energy Teach and Learn Resource Library
Girls of Energy Lesson Plans and Resources

Career Resources

Career Maps

Wind Career Map
Solar Career Map
Bioenergy Career Map


Minority Educational Institution Student Partnership Program 
Student Volunteer Internship Program 
Clean Cities University Workforce Development Program
Community College Internships
EERE Robotics IAC Internship Program
Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships
Visiting Faculty Program
General Counsel Undergraduate Intern Program 
General Counsel Law Student Intern Program 
Tribal Internship Program


Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education - ORISE
Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship 
DOE Computer Science Graduate Fellowship 
Bioenergy Technologies Office AAAS Fellowships
NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program
Presidential Management Fellows Program
DOE Scholars Program


Nuclear Energy University Program Scholarship


DOE Office of Science Graduate Research 


U.S. Energy & Employment Report 

Energy Department Calendar

May 14–25 EcoCAR 3 Year 3 Competition

More events and webinars Education Event Calendar

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