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Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research to host open house for 25th anniversary

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Ohio State’s 2016 Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 team stands next to its record-setting electric vehicle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Credit: Center for Automotive Research

Ohio State’s 2016 Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 team stands next to its record-setting electric vehicle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Credit: Center for Automotive Research

Car enthusiasts will have a chance to learn about automotive research and meet with leading automobile engineers on Friday.

Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research, located at 930 Kinnear Road, is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 3 to 8 p.m. The celebration will display presentations by CAR’s researchers and student engineering teams.

“We’ve continued to grow as a center, and continued to grow with research, with students, with faculty,” said Maryn Weimer, CAR’s senior associate director. “Twenty-five years is a big milestone for us.”

Polina Brodsky, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, got involved with CAR before she even became an OSU student.

“I started working for CAR when I was a high school student,” said Brodsky, team leader for Buckeye Current, a CAR student team that works on building electric motorcycles. “I just saw it was so cool … (I) liked coming to CAR, learning stuff there, working on the student projects, so I just decided that was the reason I was gonna come to Ohio State.”   

CAR was created in 1991 as part of the Transportation Research Endowment Program at OSU.

“There was a vision in the beginning that the center would be created,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of CAR. “The reason for creating a center for automotive research was to establish a strong presence of Ohio State University within automotive industry. That was the goal.”  

In 1998, OSU received a grant from U.S. Department of Energy for more CAR funding. CAR then established a Graduate Automotive Technology Education Center of Excellence, and, in both 2005 and 2011, CAR was expanded to train more student engineers.

“That (the multi year funding) means that for almost 20 years we have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as being leader,” Rizzoni said. “So that was a milestone because when that began, it really made the difference.”

In 2008, CAR came into its biggest crisis when the U.S. had a serious recession and many of the automotive companies which funded CAR crashed. The economic situation of CAR was difficult, but CAR survived.

“The fundamental motivation is we have to work very hard to find ways to continue our activities, and to continue funding our students and our research staff,” Rizzoni said. “Fortunately we managed to survive pretty well.”

In 2009 and 2010, CAR received funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Program. With the funding, CAR bought equipment, built infrastructure and established two major centers, one for hybrid electric vehicles in 2009 and one for battery technology in 2010.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation created University Transportation Center at CAR.

In the last few years, CAR has focused on new automotive technologies, increasing the fuel economy of vehicles, electric and hybrid-electric vehicle research, more powerful batteries and autonomous cars. This shift in focus took CAR onto a fast-developing path, Rizzoli said.

“I love the automotive industry and this has been a passion for my entire life,” he said. “And the idea of being a part of something that will shape the future of the mobility industry is very exciting for me.”

Those interested in attending the open house can RSVP on CAR’s website.

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