Spring 2010 Michigan Tech Magazine

Back to School

By Jennifer Donovan

New professional master’s focuses on hybrid vehicle engineering

Automotive engineering has changed dramatically in recent years, and even greater change is lurking just around the corner. To help prepare America’s engineering workforce for the challenge, Michigan Tech is offering a new professional master’s program in advanced propulsion technologies for hybrid vehicles.

Full-time students can earn the Master of Engineering degree online in one year, a convenience for engineers based anywhere in the world, including southeast Michigan. Though no laboratory courses are required, a mobile lab developed especially for this program can travel wherever cohorts of students seek hands-on training.

The pioneering interdisciplinary curriculum was developed in partnership with powertrain developer AVL and General Motors. It covers design, analysis, control, calibration, and operating characteristics of hybrid electric drive vehicles.

“We’ll be training and retraining the next generation of engineers to produce vehicles that reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said Jeff Naber, a professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics. Naber heads development of the curriculum along with Carl Anderson, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering, and Wayne Weaver, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Program has provided $3 million to develop the graduate program and graduate and undergraduate certificates in advanced propulsion technologies. The degree program builds on a distance-learning course in hybrid vehicles created by Michigan Tech, GM, AVL, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. It was selected by the Michigan Academy of Green Mobility to train automotive engineers in the Detroit area.

Michigan Tech unveiled plans for the new automotive engineering program at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation EcoXperience Showcase. “We were invited because we are a national leader in professional education in hybrid electric vehicles, battery technologies, power electronics, and powertrain calibration” said Anderson.

Course work leading to the professional master’s degree was launched in spring 2010, and additional courses will be offered in fall 2010.