The future is electric


Dr. Mehdi Ferdowsi, Missouri S&T assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Andrew Meintz, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering. Photo by B.A. Rupert

When Mehdi Ferdowsi and Andrew Meintz offered the inaugural class on electric and hybrid vehicles a year ago, they made an instant connection with students from a variety of engineering disciplines.

Seventeen students enrolled in the course, even though it was not widely advertised. “They obviously see this as a new field that is going to grow and ultimately become a new career path,” says Ferdowsi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Fueled by $5 million in stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Missouri S&T is developing a new undergraduate minor in advanced automotive technology to better prepare students for the plug-in economy.

The 2010 introductory course, taught by Meintz, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, was S&T’s opening into the new world of plug-in electric vehicles. Students from various disciplines enrolled to learn about the different fuel, powertrain and energy storage systems electric and hybrids require.

This semester, S&T is offering half a dozen courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. Interest in the introductory course, which is being taught by Ferdowsi this semester, has nearly doubled to an enrollment of 30 students.

Through the effort, Ferdowsi and Meintz are also developing curriculum for the University of Central Missouri and Linn State Technical College. This course material will be used to train technicians on building and repairing plug-in cars.
“Developing new course material is hard, especially when you’re talking about a new car that hasn’t even been developed yet,” says Ferdowsi. But he sees a huge payoff. “We will have a pipeline of students prepared for this industry.”

By Andrew Careaga
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  1. Milton J Murry says

    Way to go. This is the second semester I have taught Art 625 NEC at Jefferson College. Unfortunately, due to lack of Corporate leadership in St. Louis no electric cars are being sold. Local #2 would be glad to start install cheargers. College Campus such as M S and T are naturals for electric cars.

  2. This is great news. I wish there were courses like this a few years back, but at least it’s a start.
    I think the numbers of people interested in studying more about electric and hybrid cars is only going to increase.