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Engineering And Technology Education For Electric Vehicle Development

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Energy Education and Industry Needs

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.476.1 - 15.476.17



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Paper Authors


David McDonald Lake Superior State University

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David McDonald is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Lake Superior State University and the ASEE Campus Representative. He also does consulting in the area of test cell development for electric vehicle engineering.

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

Engineering and Technology Education for Electric Vehicle Development


During 2011 electric vehicles will be mass produced for the first time in history. Current engineering students will play key roles in the development of the Smart Grid and electric vehicles. Unfortunately many of these same students already fail to see a link between what they are currently learning in the classroom and their role as a professional engineer. The energy engineering community needs to determine topics and instructional techniques that will help students connect their classroom experiences with the future opportunities they will encounter in the unfolding development of the electric vehicle and its supporting infrastructure.

This paper reviews electric vehicle development as well as examples of previous learning experiences and Economic Stimulus funded initiatives for electric vehicle course and curriculum development. The paper also provides an overview of the electric vehicle drive train and corresponding engineering roles and skills, and reviews recent employment descriptions of what industry expects. Prospective curriculum items are discussed including identifying major topical areas for electric vehicle courses and a specific topical outline for an introductory electric vehicle course. Finally, the paper forecasts the need for resources including facilities, laboratory equipment and faculty development in this area.


The world of electric vehicle development is changing fast. Plug-in hybrid vehicles exist today where two electric hub motors provide power to the rear wheels, but the development focus has shifted to an all-electric vehicle that uses one electric motor. There are several major manufacturers developing electric vehicles, and both Chevrolet and Ford have announced that they will begin mass production of an electric vehicle in 2011.1, 2 “The 2010 – 2020 period has been described as the upcoming ‘tipping point’ between the more-than-100-year-old petroleum model and the new electric-mobility mode – the transition from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) as the prime mover of vehicles to electric propulsion systems.3”

There is significant support today to upgrade the country’s aging power grid to a Smart Grid to route power in more optimal ways and meet new needs while improving efficiency and reliability. “Today’s electricity system is 99.97% reliable, yet still allows for power outages and interruptions that cost Americans at least $150 billion each year.”4 A smart power distribution grid is a high national priority and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has primary responsibility for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems.5 The NIST Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Task Group expects the new infrastructure to be capable of supporting a million PEVs by 2015.6,7

McDonald, D. (2010, June), Engineering And Technology Education For Electric Vehicle Development Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16111

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