The HEV mobile laboratory was on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. On the labs first trip outside the state, United States Senator Carl Levin stopped by to give the students and their work a stamp of approval. “It may be located the Upper Peninsula, but all of Michigan has been impacted by it. Tens of thousands of engineers have come out of Michigan Tech,” said Sen. Levin. Michigan Tech Staff and faculty from four programs participated in the National Transportation Workforce Summit in Washington, DC, April 24 to 26.
Visitors to Michigan Technological University’s hybrid electric vehicles mobile lab—on display in Washington, DC, this week— will get to fabricate and test batteries made from common household items, ride a specially designed stationary bike that turns your legs into a hybrid electric engine, and literally see a car engine run. Its cylinders are made of transparent quartz, so you can see the pistons moving up and down and the flames produced by combustion.
Through MAGMA, SAE International has approved three graduate certificate programs in hybrid electric vehicles and advanced battery systems. Michigan Tech’s hybrid vehicle engineering certificate, which takes 15 graduate credits to earn, tops the list of programs approved for up to $1,800 in training grants. This is an interdisciplinary program involving faculty and staff from mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, electrical and computer engineering, materials science and engineering and chemical engineering.
Automotive engineering is entering a new era of hybrid electric-drive vehicles that demand a special set of skills most automotive engineers didn’t study when they went to college. To prepare engineers to thrive in this hybrid/electric world, Michigan Technological University is developing an interdisciplinary professional Master of Engineering program with graduate and undergraduate certification in propulsion technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles.
This curriculum development is supported by a three-year, $3 million grant from the Department of Energy under the Transportation Electrification Program. Michigan Tech will preview the new professional master’s program at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Jan. 11-24.
The Michigan Tech exhibit is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) EcoXperience Showcase at the Auto Show this year. Michigan Tech’s booth will feature information about the new hybrid/electric graduate program.
“We were invited because we are leading the way in professional education in hybrid electric vehicles and battery technologies,” said Carl L. Anderson, associate dean for research and graduate programs in Michigan Tech’sCollege of Engineering. Anderson and Michigan Tech engineering faculty Jeff Naber and Wayne Weaver are heading the development of the new graduate curriculum.
The exhibit will be in the MEDC Alternative Energy Showcase on the lower level of the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, home to the annual Auto Show. EcoXperience will feature a quarter-mile indoor ride-and-drive test track surrounded by landscaped and forested terrain. MEDC is expecting at least 50,000 of the Auto Show’s 650,000 visitors to see EcoXperience.
Representatives from Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering and Michigan Tech alumni who work at General Motors will staff the exhibit to answer questions about the University’s new professional Master of Engineering curriculum.
The pioneering professional master’s curriculum is being developed in partnership with AVL and GM.
For the past two semesters, Naber and colleagues have collaborated with the Engineering Society of Detroit, the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility and Michigan Tech’s industry partners to offer a pilot course for automotive engineers in the Detroit area. This course, including distance instruction and hands-on labs, attracted 100 graduate students each time it was taught
A fully outfitted mobile lab for the new curriculum is being built at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center, and the University’s Husky Game Development Enterprise is developing computer software for student simulations in the lab. The mobile lab will also be used in outreach programs, including the US Department of Education’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) at Michigan Tech and the University’s Youth Programs, which bring hands-on engineering and science experiences to more than 1,000 middle and high-school students each year.
Youth Programs and Admissions representatives will be at the Michigan Tech booth on Automotive Education day, which is Jan. 20.
A press preview is scheduled for Jan. 11-12, followed by an industry preview Jan. 13-14. The Auto Show will open to the public at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 and close at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24.
Hybrid technology is a primary path for the auto industry to improve fuel economy for its vehicles, but it’s not something most automotive engineers learned in school. Michigan Technological University and industry partners are working to fix that by bringing the latest advanced propulsion and battery technology know-how to the engineers in the heartland of the auto industry—Detroit.
With vehicles donated by GM, Michigan Tech has teamed up with the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) and industry leaders including AVL to offer the graduate-level course in Detroit. Classes and modeling studies along with hands-on labs are being taught at various facilities, including the Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor and AVL in Plymouth.
This is the second semester that Michigan Tech, ESD and industrial partners have offered the three-credit graduate course. The first course targeted approximately 60 out-of-work automotive engineers in partnership with GM. The second session has just wrapped up, and a third session will start in January 2010. The second and third courses are offered through a partnership with the Michigan Academy of Green Mobility (MAGM) and target engineers employed in the auto or transportation industry who are seeking to upgrade their skills.
Approximately 100 engineers completed the fall course, and another 100 are expected to take the spring 2010 session. Tuition is paid in part through the MAGM, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth through the Michigan Green Jobs Program.
Lead instructor is Jeff Naber, associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and director of the Advanced Power Systems Research Center at Michigan Tech. Other faculty include Jeff Allen, John Beard, Jeff Burl, Steve Hackney, Wayne Weaver and Jeremy Worm, all from Michigan Tech.
Students praise the course. “It combines theory with practical, real-world automotive knowledge, enabling engineers to significantly advance their skills in these critical areas,” said Timothy Philippart, a staff engineer with GM.
“The course combines many hybrid vehicle engineering concepts to provide us with a working-level comprehensive overview that helps us effectively build on our everyday jobs,” observed Christina Cramer, another GM engineer.
Downsizing, bankruptcies, factory closures . . . It’s hard to find good news in Detroit. But a new partnership aims to rewrite the headlines.
It began last fall, when Terry Woychowski ’78 wanted to do something to help his fellow engineers. Dreary news reports detailed the plight of automotive workers whose jobs were disappearing in droves. What Woychowski knew, and what wasn’t being reported, was that hundreds of jobs were also being created. But these were jobs on the forefront of automotive design, and people with the skills for those jobs were in short supply.
What Detroit’s laid-off auto engineers needed was to have their skill sets retooled for the twenty-first century, Woychowski thought.
So he forged a partnership among three players that he knew very well: alma mater Michigan Tech; the Engineering Society of Detroit, where he is president-elect; and General Motors, where he serves as vice president of global vehicle program management. What emerged was a distance-learning version of a course in hybrid vehicle engineering. Instead of being available only on campus, Michigan Tech’s Advanced Propulsion Technologies class would also be held in southeastern Michigan. GM would provide logistical support, hybrid vehicles, and facilities. The Engineering Society of Detroit would recruit students from southern Michigan’s pool of laid-off engineers.
Just in time for the spring semester, it all came together, and over sixty laid-off engineers were enrolled. Most of the students were years—even decades—out of school. So, while the tuition was free, they would all pay a steep price in sweat equity, mastering advanced math as well as sweeping new concepts in electrical and mechanical engineering and computer science. The organizers weren’t sure how many would make it.
But when the course ended in June, nearly everyone who started was still standing. “It went great, better than any of us ever expected,” said the class coordinator, GM design release engineer Jennifer Goforth.
Jason Lungstrom ’00 of Westland, Michigan, near Detroit, was among those who graduated. “No one knew what to expect, but it went really well, and we all got a lot out of it,” he said. “It was hard, but it gave me a whole new skill set that I hope to be able to use in a growing industry.”
Paul Blust ’85 had been away from the classroom almost twenty-five years. “It was a challenge to hop back into the academic world,” he said. “But they were very tolerant of the fact that we’d been out of school for awhile.
“I used to work for General Motors, and it really made me feel proud to be part of a program that was put together by GM and my alma mater.”
Because it was a distance-learning course, the students could have stayed home and watched the three weekly lectures online. But that’s not what they did, said Goforth. “The majority came to class every week to meet with their team,” sometimes driving two hours or more to Southfield. “The students recognized the commitment that Michigan Tech made, and that meant so much to them. It brought it to a personal level.”
A crew of volunteers from General Motors guided the students through their lab work. “We had a recognition dinner for all the volunteers, who put so much of their personal energy into this,” Woychowski said. “They came up afterward and asked, ‘What’s next?’ That was an indication that this was a significant achievement that touched a lot of people. I’m proud of my alma mater, I’m proud of General Motors, and I’m proud of the Engineering Society of Detroit: they all worked together and did something constructive for southeastern Michigan.”
The students, too, are eager to take the next step. “The feedback has been phenomenal,” said Goforth. “I’ve received countless emails thanking us for
making the class a reality. Many are asking, what’s next? Where can I go from here?”
Funny they should ask. The class’s lead teacher, Associate Professor Jeff Naber, has received two grants, one to offer another course in Detroit, another to develop a suite of distance-learning courses (see below).
“We can point to this as a successful pilot,” said Woychowski. “But there are still lots of problems to be solved, lots of designs to be created. We did it once, and now we are ready to do it even better.”
Back by popular demand
Tech to develop curriculum for hybrid vehicles, expand classes in Detroit
If something works, keep doing it. Last spring’s class for displaced auto engineers was such a success that the University is offering a similar class this fall and again in spring 2010. It will emphasize battery technologies, which are at the heart of hybrid vehicle propulsion.
With support from the Engineering Society of Detroit, the class is being offered tuition-free to auto engineers under the auspices of the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility, in cooperation with the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. The academy promotes worker training in green technologies for the auto industry.
In the meantime, an interdisciplinary team of Tech faculty will be developing an entire curriculum to train engineers and technicians to design and build the next generation of hybrid electric vehicles, thanks to nearly $3 million in federal stimulus funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“We’ll be training and retraining the next generation of engineers to produce vehicles that reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said Jeff Naber, associate professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics and lead faculty member on the project.
Dr. Terry Woychowski, a 1978 Mechanical Engineering graduate of Michigan Technological University, is vice president, global vehicle program management, General Motors Corp. He addressed the College of Engineering First Year Student Assembly, Mon., August 31 at the Rozsa Center at Michigan Tech. The title of his talk: “Engineering – How Will You Change the World?”
Michigan Technological University will receive nearly $3 million in federal stimulus funds to develop an interdisciplinary educational program to train engineers and technicians to design and build the next generation of hybrid electric vehicles.
The $2.98 million grant is part of $2.4 billion in awards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), announced today by President Barack Obama. Vice President Joe Biden was in Detroit to announce that companies and universities in Michigan will receive more than $1 billion of the grants, more than any other state.
Michigan Tech is one of three state universities in Michigan to receive education and training awards. The other two are Wayne State University and the University of Michigan.
“This is great news for Michigan Tech,” said Carl Anderson, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering and principal investigator for the new program. “We have had a strength in liquid-fueled vehicles and active partnerships with their manufacturers for a long time. Now we have the opportunity to take advantage of a broader array of our strengths and establish a similar leadership role in the development of a new generation of electric-powered vehicles.”
Michigan Tech will work with Argonne National Laboratory and a number of industrial partners including AVL, General Motors, Eaton, Horiba, MathWorks, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Woodward. The University and its partners will develop undergraduate and graduate curricula, including a certificate program in hybrid electric vehicles.
“We’ll be training and retraining the next generation of engineers to produce vehicles that reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said Jeff Naber, lead faculty member of the multi-disciplinary program.
The electric hybrid curriculum will be modeled after the groundbreaking course in advanced propulsion for hybrid vehicles that Michigan Tech taught in Detroit for displaced automotive engineers last spring. The course was offered in cooperation with the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) and General Motors, with GM providing laboratory facilities.
Another free, 3-credit course will be offered in Detroit this fall, in cooperation with AVL, a developer of powertrains and vehicle simulation and test systems based in Plymouth, and with ESD. AVL will provide lab space, and GM is donating three hybrid vehicles. Ford and Lotus are also supporting the course.
Under the new grant, plans are to develop a mobile lab that could enable engineers anywhere to take the courses, Naber said.
Michigan Tech Offering Free Course for Auto Engineers on Next-Generation Hybrid, Battery TechnologiesWednesday, August 5th, 2009
Auto engineers will be able to take a free graduate course in advanced vehicle technologies being taught in the Detroit area this fall by Michigan Technological University.
The 3-credit class is offered in cooperation with the Engineering Society of Detroit and AVL, a developer of powertrains and vehicle simulation and test systems based in Plymouth. The curriculum focuses on engineering skills that apply to next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Malibu and Volt and the Ford Fusion and Escape, with an emphasis on battery design and hands-on learning.
The course is under the direction of Jeff Naber, associate professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics. He taught a similar distance-learning course offered earlier this year to laid-off engineers in the auto industry.
The class is being offered under the auspices of the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility, in cooperation with the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. The academy promotes worker training in green technologies for the auto industry.
“This marks a big step forward in developing an engineering workforce with the specific knowledge and skills to design and manufacture automobiles for the 21st century,” said Sean M. Newell, chair of the academy’s governing board.
The Engineering Society of Detroit is providing classroom facilities in Southfield, and AVL is providing lab space. General Motors is donating three hybrid vehicles, and Ford and Lotus are giving additional support.
The Engineering Society of Detroit is accepting applications from students interested in taking the course, Advanced Propulsion for Hybrid Vehicles with Concentration in Battery Engineering. First preference will be given to engineers employed in the auto industry. Their tuition will be covered by federal dollars administered through Michigan Works! Auto engineers who are unemployed are also encouraged to apply and will be admitted tuition-free if space is available.
More information and application materials on the course are available from the Engineering Society of Detroit or by calling 248-353-0735. Enrollment is limited; preference will be given to applications received by Aug. 19.
The semester-long class begins Sept. 3. The course will be offered again in the spring.
“There is no flex-fuel hybrid available, partly because it’s a big challenge to meet emissions standards,” said lead investigator Jeff Naber, an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and director of Michigan Tech’s Advanced Power Systems Research Center.
Flex-fuel engines can burn anything from pure gasoline to E85–a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas. The properties of the two fuels vary tremendously, creating daunting engineering challenges. Ethanol contains only 63 percent of the stored energy of gasoline and requires about three times the energy to vaporize. Straight gasoline, however, has a much lower octane rating and can cause engine knock in a high-performance engine that would run smoothly on ethanol.
If engines can’t adapt to these very different fuels, emissions rise and mileage falls, Naber said. Starting and stopping the engine repeatedly makes this problem worse, and that’s just what hybrid engines do many times during a single trip, whenever the vehicle switches from battery to internal combustion and back again.
To address the problem, the researchers will work to optimize numerous aspects of the powertrain design and control, including the fuel and combustion systems.
As part of the project, the team aims to design and build an efficient, four-cylinder, hybrid engine with a variable compression ratio that can run on flex-fuel and meet the US EPA’s tough emissions standards, something that no hybrid has ever done. They will also develop a computer model that will allow engineers to simulate the factors involved in designing efficient, clean-running, flex-fuel hybrid engines.
“We look forward to an active exchange of expertise and know-how through this program,” said Thomas Wallner, principal investigator in Argonne’s Engines and Emissions Group. “Advanced instrumentation will be developed to further our knowledge base on the use of alternative fuels in engines.” As part of the collaboration, Michigan Tech students will visit Argonne to conduct research.
Ultimately, the technologies will be used by General Motors to manufacture energy-efficient vehicles that meet the federal government’s 2020 CAFE emissions standards.
Co-investigators on the project are Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center; Donna Michalek and John Beard, associate professors of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics; Seong-Young Lee, Scott Miers and Abhijit Mukherjee, assistant professors of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics; and Jeremy Worm, staff engineer of the Advanced Power Systems Research Center, which is directed by Naber.
The team is part of Michigan Tech’s Wood to Wheels program in the Sustainable Futures Institute, a forest-to-tailpipe research and education initiative to improve the entire lifecycle of bioenergy production and utilization from Michigan’s abundant forest resources.