Additionally, eight new smart grid courses are being created in the colleges of Engineering and Technology. The smart grid training will complement electric vehicle courses also under development, such as educating emergency responders about how to handle electric-vehicle crashes.
J. Eric Dietz, an associate professor of computer and information technology and director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute, explains that “the curriculum will be developed and put in place over the next couple of semesters and integrated either into the engineering or technology programs within the next year or so.”
He also noted that veterans are able to take advantage of GI benefits to pursue degrees related to smart grid and electric vehicles. “Basically, a four-year college degree is fully paid under federal GI benefits. Every year Indiana gets about 6,000 veterans back from active duty who qualify. The military is among the best at training young people vocationally, so we felt that would be a good place to look for the smart grid workforce we are going to need.”
Purdue is providing electric-vehicle courses to help train employees at Delphi Electronics and Safety in Kokomo. The program, organized through the state’s Department of Workforce Development, costs about $1,000 per student. More than 50 of the company’s engineers and technicians have taken advantage of the opportunity to advance their skills through the course.
Chris W. Jones, technical manager of hybrid vehicle systems for Delphi Electronics Group says his company “wants to build on its rich legacy in power electronics to develop a robust and competitive design and manufacturing capability in Indiana. We have been very pleased to partner with the deep technical resources of Purdue University to develop hybrid electric vehicles 101 to address these needs.”
The components for electric and hybrid vehicles are based on new technologies that are different from those that support Delphi’s traditional automotive electronics products, Jones explains: “Power electronics are key to the ‘green’ propulsion systems that are used in hybrid and electric vehicles. These technologies are needed to respond to the twin requirements of cutting fuel consumption and minimizing pollution – both critical to vehicle manufacturers and their customers. Implementing these advanced vehicle technologies requires that more of our employees are skilled in areas that weren’t even covered by the engineering curriculum when they went through college – things like high-power switches and magnetics, and inverters and converters, and energy storage systems and battery management systems in the 300-volt range.”