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Electric vehicle research, education and interaction on the rise at Colorado State University

Electric vehicles have gained the support of the Colorado State University community through promotion of greener transportation around Northern Colorado.

CSU has provided students with electric vehicle friendly resources through organizations such as Drive Electric Northern Colorado, the CSU Vehicle Innovation Team and the EcoCAR 3 competition.

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There are currently 10 electric vehicle charging stations on campus, which are free to use at five different locations, according to Aaron Fodge, the Alternative Transportation Manager for CSU.

On Jan. 14, Drive electric Northern Colorado hosted a Ride and Drive event on the CSU campus, where faculty and staff were able to test drive up to five electric vehicles. (Photo credit: Christina Vessa)

On Jan. 14, DENC hosted a Ride and Drive event on campus, where faculty and staff were encouraged to test drive electric vehicles.

“CSU was a founding partner in Drive Electric Northern Colorado,” Annie Freyschlag, a CSU alumna and an employee with DENC, said at the event. “Since then, it is starting to grow and evolve. Faculty are getting more engaged and there are more electric vehicle drivers on campus.”

Students at CSU have taken part in programs such as the EcoCAR 3 competition, which brings together collegiate engineering teams to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.

“We are going to modify a Chevy Camaro to reduce the environmental impact while maintaining vehicle performance,” said Torie Hawn, a journalism major and communications manager on the CSU EcoCAR3 team. “For EcoCAR2, we had a hybrid-electric-hydrogen vehicle. This year, hydrogen is not one of the allowed fuel types, but there is still ethanol.”

CSU has been participating in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions since 1988, according to Hawn.

The CSU VIT allows students to create greener automotive technologies while bringing together experience in different fields of engineering.

CSU has been working with universities across the country to help encourage the purchase of electric vehicles to create data and research, according to Fodge.

Liz Hobbs, an associate horticulture and landscape architecture professor, said that she has only had to fill her Chevy Volt once since June. She said that it is getting 178 miles per gallon.

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Sheryl Highsmith, a faculty member of the theatre program, has enjoyed having a Prius for 9 years now, along with her fully electric Nissan Leaf.

“You can’t complain about 50 miles per gallon between the Leaf and the Prius,” Highsmith said.

CSU already uses a set of four electric vehicles on campus to conduct research on sustainable transportation. These vehicles were received through a grant from Innova UEV and the technology company Internet2 last semester.

“It would be great if we could start shifting our fleet from gas to electric vehicles for all of the employee trips,” Fodge said.

He said that there is a huge opportunity in northern Colorado to quickly introduce electric vehicles.

“My hope for the future, instead of gas stations on the side of the road, we have charge stations or hydrogen fill up stations,” Hawn said.

Hawn said she believes that it is important to teach students about electric vehicles now so that they can reduce the impact of their generation on the planet.

“CSU is just a sustainable campus in general and its very supportive of the sustainable effort,” Hawn said.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChrissyVessa.

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