<img src=”http://wchbnewsdetroit.com/files/2010/05/electric-cars-2010-739227.jpg” alt=”electric-cars-2010-739227″ title=”electric-cars-2010-739227″ width=”333″ height=”250″ />
Kim Kozlowski / The Detroit News
Wayne State University officials on Wednesday approved the nation’s first graduate program to train electric car engineers.
To launch this fall, the program will offer a master’s degree in electric vehicle drive engineering as the world’s automakers invest in research and development of electric-powered vehicles.
“It’s going to be a shot in the arm for Detroit and southeast Michigan in transforming the automotive industry,” WSU associate professor Jerry Ku said of the program that he will direct.
The WSU Board of Governors approved the program, which was developed in partnership with Macomb Community College and NextEnergy, a Detroit nonprofit agency that promotes energy technologies. It was kick-started with $5 million in federal money and was part of a larger stimulus package from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The program follows attempts by automakers to evolve from combustion engines to electric and electric hybrid engines as consumers demand alternatives, said Michele Grimm, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering. Some universities offer courses or concentrations in response to the auto industry’s paradigm shift, Grimm added, but WSU is the only one in the country to offer a master’s program with a major.
“The Department of Energy realized the importance of addressing this emerging need,” Grimm said. The program will be open to a couple hundred students at any given time, Grimm said, including those who are employed, seeking to retrain or transition into the field. To enroll for fall semester, students have to apply by July 1.
Students, who can opt into an accelerated program, will learn how to power, put together, design, develop and promote electric and electric hybrid engines, school officials said.
Besides the master’s program, WSU also will offer a graduate certificate program in Electric Vehicle Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Electric Transportation, and additional courses such as electrical engineering technology in electric vehicle service.