University of Colorado Seeks to Train Tomorrow's Electric Vehicle Designers
Have you ever wondered how one goes about becoming a part of the advanced electric vehicle industry? Until recently, the answer has been either to seek an education generally tailored toward a career in the automotive industry or an engineering degree with a focus in an appropriate field.
Last week though, the University of Colorado announced one of the first programs to offer electric vehicle technology master’s certification, under its College of Engineering and Applied Science. The master’s-level courses will be offered both on-campus and online, utilizing faculty with experience and expertise in batteries and power electronics. Dubbed the Center of Excellence in Innovative Drivetrains in Electric Automotive Technology Education, the program is scheduled to begin offering classes in the Fall 2012 semester. In the meantime, the university says it will consult with an industry advisory panel to ensure that the curriculum primes students on technologies relevant to current, real-world applications.
The university will offer four courses under the program: two on battery modeling for high-capacity battery pack controls; one in power electronics for EVs; and an updated existing course in adjustable speed alternating current drives. Completion of all four courses will grant a student master’s certification in electric drivetrain technology.
Carmakers have traditionally trained many of their electric vehicle engineers in-house, but thanks to the Department of Energy grant called the Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Initiative, students will soon increasingly be able to seek out a career in emissions-free vehicle technology on their own. The GATE program will provide nearly $1 million over the next five years to help fund the University of Colorado’s program, as well as similar grants to colleges in six other states.
In addition to providing a specialized area of study for future engineering graduates, the program will also give existing vehicle engineers a chance to pick up a new specialty in a growing field. “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,” said Colorado engineering professor Greg Plett in a press release. “This program offers them the opportunity to retrain without relocating.”