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Environment / Sustainability

$5 million stimulus DOE grant for education on hybrid, electric vehicles

August 5, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Colorado State University for a $5 million grant to educate the public and train the workforce and emergency responders about the inner workings of hybrid and electric vehicles.

One of 48 projects

The grant is one of 48 advanced battery and electric drive projects announced by President Barack Obama as part of $2.4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

Nationwide, the program is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs. The CSU grant alone – part of DOE’s “Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program” – is expected to create 85 jobs to help meet a national shortage of trained hybrid/electric technicians and help rebuild the struggling U.S. auto industry.

Working with the university on the program are CSU Ventures, Arapahoe Community College and the Douglas County School District in Colorado, the Georgia Institute of Technology, KShare, Ricardo, and Motion Reality Inc.

Target the needs of industry while preparing students

“DOE’s selection of Colorado State illustrates our track record in working with community partners, businesses and government organizations to develop real solutions that help solve environmental problems globally as well as at the local level,” said Bill Farland, senior vice president for Research and Engagement at Colorado State. “Together, we can build training programs that target the needs of industry as well as prepare our students – and young people in high school – on cutting-edge technological advancements.”

Diagram: A fuel cell harnesses the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity without combustion or pollution. The only by-products are pure water and useful heat. Vehicles powered by fuel cells will be cleaner and more energy efficient than those powered by the internal combustion engine.

“We are excited to work with new partners that will allow us to remain on the cutting edge of providing innovative curriculum to our students. This will also allow current and new employees to benefit from the latest equipment and training in the hybrid/electric vehicle industry,” Diane Hegeman, vice president for Instruction at Arapahoe Community College.

The DOE proposal was co-led by CSU Ventures’ Systems Solutions Group (SSG), Cenergy - the business arm of the Clean Energy Supercluster at Colorado State - and the College of Engineering. CSU Ventures is a subsidiary corporation of the Colorado State University Research Foundation.

Electric vehicle safety, engineering education

“This grant will help create an innovative and integrated education program that ties community outreach with secondary school awareness, technician and first responder training, and college/post-graduate level education in sustainable transportation, namely electric vehicles and their support systems,” said Gary Caille, director of the Systems Solutions Group at CSU Ventures.

“This effort also develops electric vehicle safety awareness education at secondary schools and in engineering education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

For example, many people are unaware that electric vehicles run on hundreds of volts of electricity, Caille said. The Ford Escape hybrid uses 330 volts vs. a traditional automobile that uses roughly 12 volts.

Variety of cutting-edge instructional methods planned

The CSU Ventures-led team plans to couple such standard instructional methods as classroom and hands-on training with distance learning. A new method, developed by KShare, an online learning company, individually aligns every student with a diverse collection of individual professionals who are available 24/7.

Other participants include Ricardo, a provider of technology and product innovation for the vehicle industry, and Motion Reality, a pioneer in 3-D real-time engineering analysis and computer graphics whose technology received a 2005 Academy Award for groundbreaking work in all three “Lord of the Rings” films.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program.


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336