Industry is calling on U.S. universities to supply the next generation of engineers who will be capable of developing and commercializing advanced automotive technologies. Unfortunately, most universities are not able to offer what students need: multidisciplinary instructional programs that focus on cutting-edge automotive technologies. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working to remedy this situation by establishing innovative educational programs.
DOE established Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Centers of Excellence to provide a new generation of engineers and scientists with knowledge and skills in advanced automotive technologies. To that end, ten GATE centers were established at nine universities.
In 2005, DOE began held a second competition to form new, or expand, existing GATE Centers of Excellence. Award recipients receive funds to support graduate fellowships and to establish and/or upgrade and expand course study work and laboratory work to support a graduate engineering degree with a focus or certificate in a critical automotive technology area. Eight universities received awards and will focus on hybrid propulsion systems, fuel cells, advanced computation and simulation, energy storage systems, biofuels and lightweight materials.
GATE centers receive DOE funding for student fellowships and curriculum development. Each center has established a graduate engineering education program that offers courses emphasizing that center’s technology specialty. Industrial advisory boards help each university to identify and respond to critical research needs. Industry contributions help provide funding for internships, shared research facilities and equipment, research contracts, and fellowships. The newly designated GATE centers are:
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s GATE Center of Excellence focusing on lightweight materials, advanced computation and simulation, and biomechanics.
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s GATE Center for Advanced Automotive Bio-Fuel Combustion Engines.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s GATE Center for Automotive Fuel Cell Systems.
- The Ohio State University’s GATE Center for Modeling, Control, and System Integration of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems.
- The University of California-Davis’s Fuel Cell Hydrogen Hybrid Vehicle (FCH2V) GATE Centers.
- Pennsylvania State University’s GATE Center for High Power Energy Storage Systems and complementary technologies.
- The University of Tennessee’s GATE Center for Hybrid Systems focusing on development of optimal strategies for powertrain control and systems integration.
- The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s GATE Center for Lightweighting Automotive Materials and Processing.
To be selected, each school had to meet very stringent requirements. Each proposed a curriculum and process for guiding and administering the academic and research aspects of the GATE Program. Each school also had to have significant experience with one or more of the key technologies and have access to laboratory facilities and equipment to support their proposed programs.