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Students Matt Jacobson and Corbin Klett are presented with a check for $5,000 for their proposal to increase demand for electric vehicles in Atlanta.

Technology & Management Students Win Electric Vehicle Case Competition

Each day, many students cross the Fifth Street Bridge not thinking much of the downtown connector that exhales exhaust below; but a few are working to electrify the cars that pass beneath.

In the Electric Vehicle Race competition hosted by the City of Atlanta and Emory University's Goizueta Business School, a team of Georgia Tech students earned first prize and a monetary award for proposing a system for electric vehicle adoption in Atlanta.

Undergraduate students Corbin Klett, Matt Jacobson, Logan Marett, and Kevin Miron earned $5,000 for their proposal of how to drive demand for 50,000 electric cars on Atlanta’s roads during a two-year period. The students are part of Solar Jackets, Georgia Tech's student group dedicated to the design, creation and expansion of solar technology.

They are also participants in the Denning Technology and Management Program, a collaborative effort of the Colleges of Management, Engineering, Sciences and Computing that is designed to prepare a new generation of leaders who possess both managerial and technological know-how.

About 30 teams of undergraduate and graduate students from various Georgia colleges and universities applied to participate in Electric Vehicle Race competition. Of those applicants, five teams from Georgia Tech and Emory were selected as finalists and made presentations Sept. 13.

"Our approach was to devise creative and unique solutions to electric vehicle adoption, emphasizing ways of reducing the cost to the city government," say Matt Jacobson. "We stressed branding and education, creating a new electric vehicle brand we dubbed ChargeATL, and a website mockup to go along with it."

The City will use funding received from the Department of Energy to implement ideas generated from the competition, with the goal of the Atlanta area being the first region in the country to have 50,000 electric vehicles on its roads. The Mayor's office wanted to utilize the creativity of Georgia students to find ways to make the state competitive in this market.

"The Solar Jackets were incredible, coming up with as much as they did on their own," said Jules Toraya, program manager in the City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "They stood out over the rest because they had answers — answers to tough questions, how to get budgets — and you could tell they had scoped out their ideas and had conviction about them." Execution of these ideas will begin with an effort to pass electric vehicle-related legislation in the fall.

The Technology & Management Program, of which the winning Solar Jackets members are a part, cross-trains students in business and technological fields so that they can excel on the interdisciplinary teams now standard in industy. Participating students work together to develop comprehensive solutions to real-world problems sponsored by Corporate Affiliates, in addition to other coursework. They enter the two-year program at the start of their junior year and pursue a prescribed course of study to earn a minor in technology and management.

While the Electric Vehicle Race competition wasn't an assignment of the Technology & Management Program, the success of the Solar Jackets demonstrates the high caliber of students in the program, according to administrators.

Article contributed by Kristen Shaw

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