Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

UM-Dearborn gets $1M to establish Center for Electric Drive Transportation

UM-Dearborn has been selected to receive $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) initiative to establish a GATE Center for Electric Drive Transportation.


The center will build upon UM-Dearborn's existing Ph.D. and master's degree programs in automotive systems engineering, as well as faculty expertise and research achievements in the area of electric drive vehicles, including battery electric vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

"I am very excited about this opportunity," says Chris Mi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who is leading the project at UM-Dearborn. "This is a big recognition of our past work in the area of electric and hybrid electric vehicles, and will enhance greatly our existing graduate programs in automotive systems engineering."

Under the framework of the center, at least seven new graduate courses will be developed in the areas of power electronics, energy storage and energy conversion systems, and four existing courses in the powertrain concentration and vehicle electronics concentration will be revised.

The center will involve nine faculty members across three departments and create at least five graduate student fellowships annually over the next five years. Faculty members will guide research projects with participation by graduate students in electric drive vehicle (EDV) areas.

The research will focus on the thrust areas that are crucial to the development and commercialization of EDVs. The research is aimed at developing innovative technologies and solutions that will speed up the commercialization of EDVs. Faculty members will collaborate in course and curriculum development, laboratory improvement, graduate research and capstone project supervision, research proposal development, and other center activities.

In addition to the funding from the DOE, the center will benefit from cost sharing with many industry partners.

"Industry participation and support is another unique feature of the new center and key to the success of the newly developed GATE center," Mi says. "Eight companies are currently involved in the center with cash or in-kind support, and we are expecting more participation from the industry."

DOE's GATE initiative will award $6.4 million over the course of five years to support seven Centers of Excellence at American colleges, universities and university-affiliated research institutions. The awardees will focus on three critical automotive technology areas: hybrid propulsion, energy storage, and lightweight materials.

By funding curriculum development and expansion as well as laboratory work, GATE allows higher education institutions to develop multidisciplinary training. As a result, GATE promotes the development of a skilled workforce of engineering professionals who will overcome technical barriers and help commercialize the next generation of advanced automotive technologies.