Michigan Tech Trains Automotive Engineers for Hybrid Technologies

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.

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