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Smart, Connected, and Autonomous Automobiles – the impact

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Two-year College Potpourri

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

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Gary J. Mullett Springfield Technical Community College

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Gary J. Mullett, a Professor of Electronics Technology and Co-Department Chair, presently teaches in the Electronics Group at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) located in Springfield, MA. A long time faculty member and consultant to local business and industry, Mullett has provided leadership and initiated numerous curriculum reforms as either the Chair or Co-Department Chair of the four technology degree programs that constitute the Electronics Group. Since the mid-1990s, he has been active in the NSF’s ATE and CCLI programs as a knowledge leader in the wireless telecommunications field. A co-founder of the long running National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (then the ICT Center) located at STCC, Mullett also played a principle role in the development of the innovative and long running Verizon NextStep employee training program. The author of two text books, Basic Telecommunications – The Physical Layer and Wireless Telecommunications Systems and Networks, Mullett did both his undergraduate and graduate work (in Remote Sensing) in the ECE Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he also taught the undergraduate sequence of courses in electromagnetics. He has presented at numerous local, regional, and national conferences and also internationally on telecommunications and wireless topics and on the status of the education of electronics technicians at the two-year college level. His current interests are: the development of novel and innovative systems-level approaches to the education of technicians, applications of the emerging field of wired and wireless networked embedded controllers and sensor/actuator networks, and cyber-physical system applications in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Smart, Connected, and Autonomous Automobiles – the impact on two-year college technical education

Although most of the population cannot afford a new automobile every new model year, the auto makers use mass media to advertise their new vehicles each year and to introduce the public to the new features of their products. It should be obvious to even the casual observer that today’s automobiles have never been as intelligent or technologically sophisticated as they presently are. In fact, automobiles are in the process of morphing into super-computers/robots on wheels. It is widely predicted that in a few short years autonomous cars will be in mass production and as they become an appreciable fraction of the automotive fleet automotive transportation will forever change for the better. The most important change will involve vehicle safety but many have predicted a whole host of other sociological changes to human behavior involving automotive transportation. Today, the automobile manufacturers advertise advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like self-braking or collision avoidance systems. Enabled by embedded controllers and complex sensors and actuators ADAS systems are becoming standard equipment on an automakers fleet, not just the high-end models. In the near future, using these technologies, more sophisticated sensors, and wireless networking technologies the automobile will become a true cyber-physical system aware of its surroundings and capable of autonomous operation.

Presently, formal education of these advanced technology enablers is woefully lacking at vocational (K-12), post-secondary technical schools, and two-year colleges that teach automotive technology. Furthermore, most colleges that offer electrical/electronic engineering technology (EET) education at the two-year college level, as of yet, do not have educational courses or programs to teach this new technology if they were called upon to fill the need. The enabling technologies for these ADAS systems are interdisciplinary in nature. Computer networking for automobiles, embedded controllers, wireless communications, radar and LIDAR are not common topics found in typical EET programs, let alone an automotive technology program. Autonomous automobiles will need an additional support infrastructure that will allow vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, as well as, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) or vehicle-to-roadside (V2R) wireless networking. There will need to be an effort made to produce technicians with the skill sets needed to install, evaluate, maintain, and up-grade these advanced automotive systems and support infrastructure as they are presently being manufactured and envisioned for the future.

Mullett, G. J. (2017, June), Smart, Connected, and Autonomous Automobiles – the impact Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28829

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