Sharing stimulus funds

Aug 7, 2009

Kettering University will get a new electronics lab and will partner with the University of Michigan on new courses as its share in the $1 billion coming to Michigan from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Kettering University will receive about $500,000 of a $2.5 million grant from federal stimulus money, according to an announcement Wednesday in Detroit by Vice President Joe Biden.  The announcement is part of $1 billion that is coming to Michigan from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.   

Kettering will share in a grant that was awarded to the University of Michigan for the creation of 10 courses on hybrid electronics, batteries and green power. About half the courses will be taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with others taught at the university’s Dearborn campus and in Flint at Kettering. Two laboratories will be developed to support graduate and undergraduate courses, some of which could begin as soon as winter semester. 

Kettering President Stan Liberty said the University’s participation in the project is a symbol of the strength that mid-Michigan brings to the state.  “Kettering is pleased to partner with the University of Michigan and the federal government on the advanced laboratories and courses needed to educate tomorrow’s workforce.  Michigan’s university partners will train the next generation of workers in these new technologies."

Dr. Michael Harris, Kettering’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said he is pleased with what the funding represents for the University.  “We at Kettering are delighted to receive stimulus funding for electric drive vehicle battery and component manufacturing,” he said. “We will partner with other institutions of higher education and with industry to continue our advanced work in education and applied research in the field. This award is a testimony to the capacity of our faculty.”

Harris said he especially wants to acknowledge the work and leadership of Professor James Gover and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “We will use these resources to enhance our educational capacities in this field so we continue to be a national leader. This is part of our transformation into the economy of innovation,” Harris added.

Dr. Gover, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the creation of a new hybrid vehicle power electronics laboratory will upgrade the teaching of three currently existing hybrid vehicle/power electronics courses at Kettering.  Additionally, the funding will develop two new hybrid vehicle courses, he explained. 

“Other courses are being developed in Ann Arbor and Dearborn,” he continued.  “The courses will be transferred to Kettering for our use in hybrid vehicle education.  Of course, all of these courses can be adapted to continuing education courses that are offered to companies.  When this work is completed, the State of Michigan will have several universities with leading-edge hybrid vehicle education programs and research facilities.  Hopefully,” he said, “this will lead to plug hybrid vehicles assembled in Michigan with the batteries, power electronics, IGBT switches and electric machines all manufactured in our state.”  

Gover noted that Kettering will work with Dr. Huei Peng, a professor of Mechanical Engineering and executive director of Interdisciplinary and Professional Engineering Programs at the University of Michigan, who will create classes at universities and educational programs for K-12 students and the general public.  “We want to develop all opportunities so the workforce in Michigan can be transformed,” Peng said in a University of Michigan press release. 

$1 Billion For Michigan: Vice President Biden’s announcement on Wednesday also said that two companies, A123 and Johnson Controls, will receive a total of approximately $550 million to establish a manufacturing base in the state for advanced batteries. Two others, Compact Power and Dow Kokam, will receive more than $300 million to manufacture battery cells and materials.  Large automakers based in Michigan, including GM, Chrysler and Ford, will receive a total of more than $400 million to manufacture thousands of advanced hybrid and electric vehicles as well as batteries and electric drive components. 

Around The U.S.: In all, 48 projects around the country will receive $2.4 billion in grants for next-generation batteries and the ongoing development of electric vehicles. The projects, which the Department of Energy (DOE) selected through a highly competitive process, will help accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles. The announcement marks the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made, White House sources said. Industry officials expect that this investment, coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost-sharing from the award winners, will result in the creation of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. battery and auto industries. 

Special Visitor In September: “Not only is Michigan getting stimulus funds to make it the leading source of HEV education,” Gover continued, “the world’s leading HEV conference -- the IEEE VPPC -- will be in Michigan at the Fairlane Center in Dearborn Sept. 7-11.”  The IEEE conference will feature a visit by distinguished scholar/expert, Professor C.C. Chan of Hong Kong, who holds the highest professional title in engineering in China and the United Kingdom.  Professor Chan is an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong and a Fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering in the U.K.  He is also president of the World Electric Vehicle Association and Electric Vehicle Association of Asia Pacific and the founding director of the International Research Centre for Electric Vehicles, Gover explained. 

Professor Chan will visit Kettering from Sept. 2-5 to give presentations, meet faculty and collaborate with Kettering's Electrical Engineering faculty in research, Gover added. Professor Chan is also an IEEE Fellow.  He is the father of hybrid and electric vehicles in China. 

Kettering will be well represented at the 2009 IEEE VPPC in Dearborn in September, with members of the campus community serving in chair leadership positions and as alumni keynote speakers.

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Written by Pat Mroczek and Gary Erwin
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