Doug Nelson, Virginia Tech professor of mechanical engineering, is the 2009 winner of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Outstanding Long-Term Faculty Advisor Award for the EcoCAR Challenge competition, complete with a $10,000 cash prize.

EcoCAR is a design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Engineering students across North America participated in the development of the "green" vehicles of the future. This year, the teams were asked "to re-engineer a 2009 Saturn VUE to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal."

Virginia Tech’s team placed sixth out of 17 schools in the competition.

The NSF EcoCAR Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award honors Nelson for best promoting the goals, objectives, and activities of the competition. Specifically, the emphasis is on the success of the incorporation of the EcoCAR goals, objectives, and activities into the undergraduate engineering curriculum in the areas of mechanical, electrical, manufacturing, industrial, and other related engineering disciplines.

Nelson has a long history of working with students on environmentally friendly vehicles. He was the founding advisor of Virginia Tech's Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), which started participating in 1994 in national alternative-fuel, student-designed vehicle competitions sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and U.S. automakers.

In 2005, the NSF presented the Outstanding Long-Term Faculty Advisor Award to Nelson during the Challenge X 2005 Competition at Generals Motor's Milford Proving Grounds near Detroit, Mich. In 1998 NSF awarded Nelson the FutureCar Faculty Advisor's Award. The 2005 award came with a $15,000 grant and the 1998 honor netted Nelson $20,000. The cash awards are used for the improvement and education of the design teams.

The judges of the NSF Advisor competition select the faculty advisor who has created the best automotive engineering and engineering design experience for his/her students, and who has best used EcoCAR to enrich the university engineering program.

Nelson, who joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1986, is also a past recipient of the Society of Automotive Engineers' Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions as one of the nation's top engineering educators in the field of automotive technology.

Nelson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. at Arizona State University.

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