University of Tennessee Receives Virtual Instrumentation Award from NI

6/18/2004 - National Instruments awarded a team of University of Tennessee engineering students the Most Innovative Use of Virtual Instrumentation Award at FutureTruck 2004, the fifth and final leg of the five-year engineering competition series. By combining NI LabVIEW Real-Time software and NI Compact FieldPoint industrial measurement and control hardware, the team innovatively used virtual instrumentation to design, test and operate its hybrid control system in a re-engineered Ford Explorer.

Virtual instrumentation is the combination of rapidly advancing computer technology with powerful software and modular hardware to create user-defined instrumentation and control systems. The University of Tennessee team took this approach by combining NI LabVIEW software with commercial hardware to redesign its sports utility vehicle (SUV) into a more environmentally friendly vehicle. NI also recognized Texas Tech University for the second place award and Ohio State University for third.

“With LabVIEW, our team had the ability to test our strategy early in the competition and make necessary design modifications for increasing fuel efficiency and lowering greenhouse emissions,” said David Smith, team leader of the University of Tennessee FutureTruck team. “With virtual instrumentation, our team was able to quickly and easily design and implement our vehicle’s control system and reduce overall development time.”

NI is a major sponsor of FutureTruck, a five-year engineering program focused on addressing important environmental and energy-related problems associated with SUVs. Student teams were challenged to re-engineer SUVs into lower-emission vehicles with at least 25 percent increased fuel economy while preserving the vehicle’s performance, utility, safety and consumer acceptability. Judges evaluated the teams’ vehicles on safety, technical performance and design from June 9 through June 17 at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, Mich. Teams received their awards at the end of the competition yesterday.

“National Instruments has witnessed the tremendous value in participating in this hands-on, pioneering student program,” said Ray Almgren, NI vice president of product marketing and academic relations. “Through the years, we have seen students bring theoretical engineering concepts to life as they solve real-world automotive engineering problems. From battery monitoring and control to designing and prototyping the hybrid vehicle, virtual instrumentation has been an effective approach for tackling these challenges while teaching students vital engineering principles.”

More than 300 students from 15 top North American universities such as Virginia Tech, Georgia Institute of Technology and Cornell University participated in FutureTruck 2004. Primary sponsors include the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Ford and the Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Research.

NI continues to support hands-on engineering research and education as a major sponsor of Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility, a new three-year competition series that challenges teams of college students to re-engineer a GM crossover SUV to minimize energy consumption, emissions and greenhouse gases. Challenge X was developed by the Department of Energy, General Motors Corporation and other government and industry leaders, and will take place from August 2004 to June 2007.

Additional information about FutureTruck and Challenge X is available on the Web at and, respectively.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs through easy-to-integrate software, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, and modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control and machine vision. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,100 employees and direct operations in 40 countries. In 2003, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in 90 countries.

Previous Page | News by Category | News Search

If you found this page useful, bookmark and share it on: