UM-Dearborn gets $1M to establish Center for Electric Drive Transportation

September 30, 2011

DEARBORN / Sept. 30, 2011---The University of Michigan-Dearborn has been selected to receive $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) initiative to establish a GATE Center for Electric Drive Transportation at UM-Dearborn.

The Center will build upon UM-Dearborn’s existing Ph.D. and master’s degree programs in automotive systems engineering, as well as faculty expertise and research achievements in the area of electric drive vehicles, including battery electric vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Chris Mi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who is leading the project at UM-Dearborn. “This is a big recognition of our past work in the area of electric and hybrid electric vehicles, and will enhance greatly our existing graduate programs in automotive systems engineering.”

Under the framework of the Center, at least seven new graduate courses will be developed in the areas of power electronics, energy storage and energy conversion systems, and four existing courses in the powertrain concentration and vehicle electronics concentration will be revised.

The Center will involve nine faculty members across three departments and create at least five graduate student fellowships annually over the next five years. Faculty members will guide research projects with participation by graduate students in electric drive vehicle (EDV) areas.

The research will focus on the thrust areas that are crucial to the development and commercialization of EDVs. The research is aimed at developing innovative technologies and solutions that will speed up the commercialization of EDVs. Faculty members will actively collaborate in course and curriculum development, laboratory improvement, graduate research and capstone project supervision, research proposal development, and other Center activities.

In addition to the funding from the DOE, the Center will benefit from cost share from many industry partners.

“Industry participation and support is another unique feature of the new Center and key to the success of the newly developed GATE center,” Mi said. “Eight companies are currently involved in the Center with cash or in-kind support, and we are expecting more participation from the industry.”

DOE’s GATE initiative will award $6.4 million over the course of five years to support seven Centers of Excellence at American colleges, universities and university-affiliated research institutions. The awardees will focus on three critical automotive technology areas: hybrid propulsion, energy storage, and lightweight materials.

By funding curriculum development and expansion as well as laboratory work, GATE allows higher education institutions to develop multidisciplinary training. As a result, GATE promotes the development of a skilled workforce of engineering professionals who will overcome technical barriers and help commercialize the next generation of advanced automotive technologies.

Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 8,900 students pursuing more than 100 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education.  A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.


Beth Marmarelli