UCCS to lead electric vehicle development studies

Portrait of Greg PlettCU-Boulder faculty will join UCCS faculty to teach courses in the design and implementation of electric vehicle drivetrains to new and retraining engineers.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently provided a five-year $954,000 grant to UCCS for the development of courses to prepare engineers for careers in developing new technologies for vehicles having electric drivetrains. The master’s-level courses will be taught by both UCCS and CU Boulder faculty members with expertise in batteries, battery controls, and power electronics.

The courses will be available through distance learning technologies such as on-line courses and, possibly, CISCO Telepresence, in addition to traditional in-person classrooms, making them available to people nationwide.

“There are thousands of engineers who have either been displaced as the U.S. auto industry shifted or who have an interest in learning about creating vehicles of the future,” Greg Plett, professor, UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science, said. “This program offers them the opportunity to retrain without relocating.”

Plett, the principal investigator on the project, has spent his career working with battery controls and has close relationships to many Colorado-based companies who manufacture batteries or their controls as well as large corporations such as General Motors.  Plett is working with General Motors’ engineers on new methods for battery controls in future extended range electric vehicles beyond the Chevy Volt.

The GATE Center of Excellence in Innovative Drivetrains in Electric Automotive Technology Education will provide students the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in electric drivetrain technology by taking four courses in battery dynamics, battery controls, power electronics and detailed courses in adjustable alternating current drives. Plans also call for creating options for students in master’s of science in electrical engineering programs at UCCS and CU-Boulder to pursue specialization in fields such as battery controls, taught by UCCS faculty, and vehicle power electronics taught by CU Boulder faculty members.

“This program combines the strengths of the faculty of two CU campuses for the benefit of students,” Plett said.

Plett also believes the collaboration of faculty will lead to new research in battery technology. Battery life and power outputs have long been considered hindrances to the development of electric vehicles including cars, trucks and mass transit vehicles.

Plett envisions that fellowships to reduce the cost of the graduate coursework will be available with 30 to 40 students enrolled annually beginning with the fall 2012 semester.

Working with Plett will be Scott Trimboli, assistant professor, UCCS College of Engineering, and Regan Zane, associate professor, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, CU Boulder, and Dragan Maksimovic, professor, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, CU Boulder.


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