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A Mobile Laboratory as a Venue for Education and Outreach Emphasizing Sustainable Transportation

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning through Laboratory Experiences

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.67.1 - 25.67.16



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Paper Authors


Jeremy John Worm P.E. Michigan Technological University

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Jeremy John Worm is the Director of the Mobile Sustainable Transportation Laboratory at Michigan Tech and a Research Engineer in the Advanced Power Systems Research Center. Worm teaches several courses pertaining to hybrid vehicles, and IC engines. In addition to teaching, his research interests include internal combustion engines, alternative fuels, and vehicle hybridization. Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Worm was a Lead Engine Development Engineer at General Motors, working on high efficiency engines in hybrid electric vehicle applications.

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John E. Beard Michigan Technological University

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Wayne Weaver Michigan Technological University


Carl L. Anderson Michigan Technological University

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Carl L. Anderson is a professor in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He is the Principal Investigator for the Department of Energy project: An Interdisciplinary Program for Education and Outreach in Transportation Electrification. He serves on the governing board of the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance (MAGMA) that works with the state of Michigan to promote hybrid electric vehicle engineering education.

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A Mobile Laboratory as a Venue for Education and Outreach Emphasizing Sustainable TransportationEducators have developed a versatile mobile laboratory that will travel the North Americancontinent serving as a venue for a wide range of educational opportunities including support ofcurriculum based courses, targeted short courses, community education and outreach. The labwas built as part of a US Department of Energy funded program to develop a curriculum inHybrid Electric Vehicle Engineering that include certificates at the undergraduate and graduatelevels.The authors have found hands-on discovery based learning activities to be an effective means ofenabling students to grasp and retain complex topics in engineering and science, andfurthermore, that engineering students excel when they can see how an individual concept fitsthe overall larger context of product development and societal advancement. With an emphasison sustainable transportation systems, the mobile lab provides opportunities for hands-ondiscovery based learning throughout the development process from model based simulation anddesign to optimization of hardware and controls.The mobile lab consists of several elements. The primary laboratory structure is a 53 foot longvan trailer that incorporates an expandable center section for a total of 700 square feet of space.The expandable center section provides for instruction based learning and bench-top activities onfour universal and configurable lab benches. The front and rear of the trailer contain test cellsthat can be operated from the lab benches in a number of modes including a steady state mode tostudy the operation of specific components and as a dynamic system with real-time Hardware-In-The-Loop functionality. The powertrain in the test cells is a match to the powertrain in aconfigurable Hybrid Electric Vehicle. The configurable Hybrid Electric Vehicle allows studentsto change many elements of the vehicle from hardware to embedded software and optimizationparameter sets. Three production Hybrid Vehicles are provided to study the operation ofproduction vehicles in real-world driving scenarios. In addition to driving on the road, theseproduction vehicles, as well as the configurable hybrid vehicle can be tested on the mobile lab’ssingle role chassis dynamometer enabling the students to emulate specific drive cycles.The experimental apparatus and activities on the mobile lab are scalable and configurable. Thisenables educators to tailor the learning experience to many demographics including K-12,college, and the community. Likewise the contact period with the participants can be as short asjust a few minutes in the case of some outreach scenarios, a few days as in the case of some shortcourses, or a full semester in support of curriculum based college courses.This paper provides technical details on the development and capabilities of the mobile lab anddescribes the pedagogy behind the educational activities that are conducted with the mobile lab.The outcomes of select activities are discussed as are ways in which participant assessments areguiding continued development. An image of the Mobile lab and a process flow diagram areshown below.Figure 1: The Mobile Lab with several of its educational vehicles while setup. The Vehicle Development Process Simulation to on-road validation RLM Vehicle Simulation for Coursework and Outreach Predicting vehicle behavior without the vehicle through Carmaker ECU HIL Expanded Classroom and Outreach Powertrain HIL (Batteries, E-Machines, Engines, Drivetrain, etc.) On-Track with On-Road with Configurable HEV’s Production HEV’sFigure 2: Educational process flow through the Mobile Lab.

Worm, J. J., & Beard, J. E., & Weaver, W., & Anderson, C. L. (2012, June), A Mobile Laboratory as a Venue for Education and Outreach Emphasizing Sustainable Transportation Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20827

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