Schools Adjusting to the Electric Car Revolution

Diploma with red ribbon and books
Diploma with red ribbon and books

The electric car revolution is not only affecting the consumer car market as to EPA regulations and mileage efficiency. It does not only affect the infrastructure for electric vehicles but also is also influencing common designs for charging technology. Now, even the higher education system is adjusting to provide the necessary workforce for the electric car revolution.

One of the newer adjustments is in actual courses provided in colleges, such as Ohio State, providing a course on thermodynamics and internal combustion engines. Now, the university is deeply engaged in creating an electric vehicle to represent the university in EcoCAR, a green technology competition sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors.

This how one of the most prestigious mechanical engineering programs in the country is answering the call of the electric vehicle revolution. The university’s Center for Automotive Research is conducting itself to solve real world problems together with interaction with automakers in order to provide better vehicles in the future.

One such project is a three year program aimed to find means to reduce the fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions in Chevrolet Malibus. For its part, Ohio State would be utilizing plug-in hybrid platform maximizing the distribution of battery energy throughout the vehicle.

This shift in focus in the field of education is but a response to the onset of the market and industry demand. Automakers for its part put in great investment in the design of fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle platforms. To fuel this drive, schools need to provide graduates that are not only technologically adept with regards to engineering, but must also have understanding as to computer management as well as environmental impact analysis of the vehicles to be built in the future.

One such market is the hybrid vehicle. Future designers and engineers need a deep understanding as to battery technology, computer management and diagnostic systems that create the interfaced systems in these kinds of vehicular platforms. This requires a need for a collaborative approach in the design and development process, requiring engineers to work with others to create the whole vehicle and not just the individual moving parts.

The increasing complexity of these vehicle designs is what moves many domestic carmakers to work together with educational institutions to augment their bare bones research and development departments. While donations were the norm then, nowadays automakers put up internship programs and other partnership means to help students in creating alternative power trains for the cars of the future.

According to Thomas Stephens, former Chief Technology Officer of General Motors, “GM needs to be much more externally focused because technology is going to move so rapidly that we need to gather new innovations from anybody and everybody. To compete, you’re going to have this innovation and you’re not going to be able to do it all yourself.”

Aside from GM, other automakers such as Honda and Ford, as well as electric vehicle components manufacturers such as Allison, Delphi and Cummins, have all been taking the work to the universities. In exchange, experimental programs would be provided to students as well as internships that later on are hired as employees of these companies.

The future looks bright right?