Voltaic Electric Vehicle Drive Train Takes First Place at UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

Voltaic Team

Photo courtesy of the UW College of Engineering

The winners of this year’s University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge were announced at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall this past week. The winning projects were selected by a panel of more than 90 industry representatives from both public and private enterprises, including Boeing, Siemens and Sound Transit.

The grand prize went to a project developed by UW undergraduate engineers who invented an electric vehicle drive train that converts any car from gas to electric power. Voltaic created an electric vehicle modular drive train that can replace drive trains of gas-powered engines in existing models. The electric module can be customized to fit inside any car and the team displayed a Honda outfitted with its prototype electric engine to show how it powers the car. The company’s president is Trevor Crain, a senior in mechanical engineering at UW. Vivek Gowri, the automotive specialist, is also a senior in Mechanical Engineering. Kerwin Loukusa, a senior in electrical engineering, is the director of electronics.

The $10,000 grand prize was sponsored by the UW Center for Commercialization (C4C). Rick LeFaivre, Director of the New Ventures unit at C4C was impressed by the “great turnout of student projects, with a number from UW.”


Read more about all the 2010 Environmental Innovation Challenge winners in Foster Unplugged

Read the Seattle Times piece on Voltaic


About the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge

Interdisciplinary student teams define a cleantech problem, design and develop the solution, and produce both a prototype (proof of concept/computer simulation) and business summary that demonstrates the market opportunity. Teams are judged—by Seattle-area experts, entrepreneurs, and cleantech investors—on their prototypes, pitches and business summaries, plus the potential impact of their innovation. Ideas should aim to reduce environmental impacts, improve ecological sustainability, conserve resources and compete in the marketplace.