Wayne State University's Board of Governors has approved three academic programs that will help Michigan meet the technological and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Wayne State's Electric-Drive Vehicle Engineering programs reflect a transformative shift in the automobile industry from petroleum-powered engines to renewable, resource-based, electric-powered motors.
The electric-drive vehicle industry has emerged as an important focus for Wayne State. An increase in consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles and the auto industry's efforts to comply with the 2020 CAFE standards have created a sense of urgency for electric-drive vehicle education. In addition, the U.S. auto industry is developing vehicle propulsion systems that will reduce emissions today and provide a platform for further technological advances in the future. The primary developments are hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, all of which are covered by Wayne State's new degree and certificate programs.
"We see a new era coming and we want to be a player," said WSU College of Engineering Interim Dean Mumtaz Usmen. "Armed with this knowledge, our students will be sought after by the OEMs and their suppliers."
The new programs, scheduled to launch in fall 2010, include a bachelor of science in Electric Transportation Technology (ETT), a master of science in Electric-Drive Vehicle Engineering and a graduate certificate program in Electric-Drive Vehicle Engineering, a subset of the master's degree.
Wayne State students enrolled in the new programs will develop a skill set for each sector of the industry. The bachelor of science in ETT, the first of its kind in the nation, formalizes a 2+2 articulation agreement with area community colleges or equivalent lower division programs. The structure enables students to enroll at the community college level, receive an electric vehicle technician associate's degree after two years, and then complete the bachelor's degree in ETT at Wayne State after an additional two years of instruction.
Usmen noted that Wayne State, which is located in Detroit, has a long history of working hand in hand with the automotive industry to produce the world's top engineering talent and place students in highly competitive jobs. Wayne State started its Alternative Energy Technology program in 2000, leading universities worldwide and creating a platform upon which it was able to immediately utilize the U.S. Department of Energy funds for educating students.
"Our vision is to make this program strong and accessible," Usmen added. "We are leading the education effort in the nation by teaching and training people to work for companies across the automotive supply chain and help make the transition to renewable energy sources more efficient and systematic. Our goal is to teach students to continue to learn even after they graduate and equip them to seek out the resources they need to remain current and job-ready for the future."