Perdue University (USA)

Source: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2010/100331CaruthersElectric.html


Purdue University will hold the inaugural Electric Vehicle Grand Prix on April 18 as part of a program to educate a new generation of highly skilled workers to design, build and service electric vehicles.

"Electric vehicles represent the future, and we're getting students not only prepared but excited about that future," said James Caruthers, director of the Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium (I-AEVtec) and a Purdue professor of chemical engineering.

President Barack Obama last year announced that Purdue would lead the consortium, a $6.1 million effort funded through the U.S. Department of Energy with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The consortium will develop degree and training programs for the electric-vehicle industry, which is expected to grow dramatically in coming decades.

About 60 students in several Purdue courses are involved in developing the evGrandPrix.

"This is a large interdisciplinary effort and the first electric vehicle Grand Prix-style go-kart race for college students in the nation," Caruthers said. "It's the perfect vehicle for engaging students in a wide variety of electro-mechanical technologies." Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in his state of the state address in January, said, "2009 was the year when several young companies who may lead the electric vehicle industry chose Indiana for their plants. Many of their suppliers are following them. Our goal is to be the capital of this potentially massive industry of tomorrow."

Purdue is working with Notre Dame University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue University Calumet and Indiana University Northwest to develop the degree and training programs to support the emerging electric vehicle industry. The educational institutions in the I-AEVtec consortium will create about 28 courses over the next three years for programs including an associate degree and electric vehicle technology certificates as part of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in various engineering and technology disciplines.

"Market projections indicate electric vehicles may represent one-third of all vehicles sold by 2025," said Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of Energy Systems Network, an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership focusing on clean energy technologies in the state. "Indiana companies are producing electric vehicles and many of the critical components, including motors, power controllers and batteries. At the same time, the state's institutions of higher education are very strong in the kinds of technical disciplines needed to provide highly skilled workers for industries related to electric vehicles."

Complementing the formal coursework, the evGrandPrix has been developed to provide hands-on experience in electro-mechanical technology, Caruthers said.

Fifteen go-karts will race in the first annual evGrandPrix at 1 p.m. on April 18 at Purdue’s Grand Prix track in West Lafayette. The race will last about an hour, with the vehicles taking roughly 100 laps.

The vehicles are built on a platform - called a kart - a tubular-steel frame 5 feet long and 44 inches wide. They will be capable of accelerating faster than traditional gas powered go-karts, but will be restricted to a top speed of about 35 mph for safety purposes, Caruthers said.

Scoring will be based on a combination of race performance, energy efficiency, engineering design and community outreach. Additional information about the 2010 evGrandPrix is available at http://www.evGrandPrix.org

Go-kart development and construction is the centerpiece of a new Purdue course in electric vehicle technology, in which 24 students are enrolled. The students, who are organized into four teams, each of which will race their karts, are learning about various aspects of electric vehicles, including battery technology, vehicle construction, electronic controls and braking systems.

"The construction of go-karts is an excellent vehicle for teaching electro-mechanical technology," Caruthers said. The work is academically demanding, said Michael Kane, an associate professor of computer and information technology and one of the faculty members teaching the course.

"For example, students are doing the stress analysis equations for the frame, which involves a complex finite element modeling to determine the proper thickness for welds on the karts," he said.

In addition to the go-karts being developed in the electric vehicle technology course, the competition includes additional student teams from computer information technology, electrical and computer technology, women in technology, mechanical engineering technology and industrial engineering.

The evGrandPrix is not affiliated with the Purdue Grand Prix, to be held on April 24, which is a charity gasoline-powered kart race held annually at Purdue to raise scholarship money for Purdue students.

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

James Caruthers, 765-494-6625, caruther@purdue.edu
Michael D. Kane, 765 494-2564, mdkane@purdue.edu
Steven Dunlop, 765 494-5861, dunlops@purdue.edu
Steve Shelby, 765-494-5952, shelby@purdue.edu

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