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A Well To Wheels Approach To The Development Of Automotive Curricula In Applied Engineering Programs

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Mechanical ET Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.147.1 - 11.147.8



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Paper Authors

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Dale Palmgren Arizona State University

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Bradley Rogers Arizona State University

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Nathan Everett Arizona State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Well-to-Wheels Approach to the Development of Automotive Curricula in Applied Engineering Programs


Historically, many seemingly promising alternative energy technologies have failed to significantly penetrate the market, often because of economic realities or the difficulty of integrating these technologies into the existing worldwide energy infrastructure. When developing courses and course sequences in energy systems in engineering technology programs, the applied nature of the programs make it especially important that the students be educated in both traditional and emerging technologies, and that the technologies be viewed from as realistic a viewpoint as possible. This requires that the students develop a systems point of view, in which the potential effectiveness of the technology is quantified not in terms of peak efficiency measured in a laboratory, but rather how the technology penetrates and affects the global energy infrastructure.

At Arizona State University, an automotive option within Mechanical Engineering Technology is under development, a particular focus of which will be highly efficient vehicles. Power plant technologies that are emerging in this field include electric vehicles utilizing batteries, hybrid internal combustion engine/electric systems, and fuel cell systems, and students need to be educated in all of these technologies from a systematic, “well-to-wheels” viewpoint. For example, fuel cells for transportation have received a great deal of attention because of the potential for zero emissions if a hydrogen infrastructure can be developed and if that infrastructure is independent of fossil fuels. However, this infrastructure is not in place at the present time, and hydrogen is being produced primarily from reforming of hydrocarbons, resulting in pollution at the hydrogen production stage. Therefore, the real environmental impact of an automotive fuel cell transportation system must account for these effects.

At ASU, while all technologies will be a part of the curricula, the decision has been made to focus resources on the technologies that the students are most likely to be exposed to early in their careers. As a consequence, there is a need to develop case studies, ultimately to be used in the classroom, which compare both the economic and technical realities of the competing technologies from a systems viewpoint. In this paper, well-to-wheels comparison of diesel electric hybrid systems with fuel cell systems are discussed. Conclusions from this study are being used to guide the course and curriculum development.

Engineering Systems Overview

The potential long term market penetration of emerging technologies, such as fuel cell systems for transportation applications, is difficult to forecast for several reasons, including the fact that this development will depend strongly on breakthroughs in research. On the other hand in the short term it is possible to quantify the performance in comparison to existing systems assuming that they are to be initially based on proven technology. However, as will be discussed in this section, even in the short term a valid comparison of the technologies requires that the global system, from well-to-wheels, be considered since comparison of the performance of independent subsystems can be misleading. This is especially important in educational program development

Palmgren, D., & Rogers, B., & Everett, N. (2006, June), A Well To Wheels Approach To The Development Of Automotive Curricula In Applied Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--632

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