Next-Gen: Students Envision Future of EV Charging Design

Student Competition Profile: Auburn University Industrial & Graphic Design Awards

Student Competition Profile: Auburn University Industrial & Graphic Design Awards

Engineering students at Auburn University win awards of up to $3,000. Images courtesy of Jim Romeo.

ABM, a leading provider of facility services, infrastructure, electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions and parking and transportation management, recognized six graduating students at Auburn University School of Industrial & Graphic Design with awards of up to $3,000 for their work designing innovative EV charging station concepts through their senior projects.

As part of ABM’s commitment to continuous innovation within the eMobilty sector, these designs will join the company’s other future-forward concepts informing the next evolution in EV infrastructure.

As ABM continues to explore new charging station designs and applications to their current range of offerings in the coming years, the six winning concepts help inform these new innovations and integrations. Having installed over 30,000 chargers in the U.S., ABM is at the forefront of furnishing fleet operators, site hosts, solution providers and local charging network providers with cutting-edge EV hardware and software technology through ABM EV charging stations and ABM EV OS.

Alex Drouillard is a product manager at ABM. We spoke to Alex and some members of the Auburn team to learn more about their design development for the program. Here’s our conversation.

Digital Engineering: Can you provide an overview of the partnership and what it sought to accomplish?

Alex Drouillard: ABM launched their own branded charging solutions earlier in 2023 to bring new solutions to address the needs of drivers today. Looking to further enhance that driver experience, ABM invested in its partnership with Auburn University to explore new solutions that could improve and enhance current charger design, with emphasis on ease, ergonomics, and accessibility. Thirteen Auburn students participated in this project, each bringing forth a unique concept for their own variation of a charging station design.

Students explored concepts focusing on accessibility, ergonomics and user experience.


Auburn was a natural choice for this project given their leadership in industrial design, and they were a great partner throughout, with each student providing exciting new ideas and perspectives. We went in with the plan to offer only five prizes, but the outcomes were so strong we needed to add an additional prize to recognize these efforts and for us to consider them all for our future charger designs.

Along with receiving a design briefing from ABM’s experts, participating students rented an electric vehicle to use and experience the locally available chargers first-hand. Over the course of nine weeks, they worked closely with ABM’s team, as well as their professor, to finalize their designs. Afterward, they were judged by a panel of those experts along with their professor to score each design based upon a range of factors, including accessibility, aesthetics and manufacturing cost.

Abby Freeman, overall winner of the competition: ABM was a great partner, providing regular feedback and encouragement to our designs. They regularly reiterated how to use the design process, and it was interesting to see that process in action as we designed our chargers.

DE: How did the design challenge benefit your students and curriculum at Auburn?

Jerrod Windham, associate professor of industrial design, Auburn University: ABM was a great partner to work with, both in bringing a real-world application to our students, but also in providing a tangible design brief that gave them a lot to work with and, ultimately, resulted in a range of different outcomes from the students. The cash prize offer was also unique, allowing our students the opportunity to be rewarded monetarily for their work and understand the value of their designs.

Share This Article

Subscribe to our FREE magazine, FREE email newsletters or both!

Join over 90,000 engineering professionals who get fresh engineering news as soon as it is published.

About the Author

Jim Romeo's avatar
Jim Romeo

Jim Romeo is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, VA. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

Follow DE