Practical Electrified Vehicle Engineering

Last night at Formula Hybrid, Professor Charlie Sullivan of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth presented his new course, Practical Electrified Vehicle Engineering, to a group of educators and automotive industry professionals. Sullivan said the new course, which aims to bridge the gap between system design and technical skills, could eventually become more widely available as a modular online course.

Dartmouth Professor Charlie Sullivan & Formula Hybrid official Ricky Willems.

Dartmouth Professor Charlie Sullivan talks with Formula Hybrid official Ricky Willems after his presentation.

“Rather than just laying out the rules, we’re looking at, what’s the engineering basis for them?” Sullivan explained. “We’re developing people who have a deeper understanding of that.”

Students learn not only about the operation of circuits and how to design and optimize systems, but also practical skills in construction and safety around high-voltage.

One presentation attendee from an automotive manufacturer said areas of electric vehicle development that are often viewed in the automotive industry as “black magic” include electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI), as well as the thermal management aspects. Manufacturers often outsource work in those areas, he said.

Sullivan discussed the course and its materials with other educators who attended the talk and compared notes on the way Formula Hybrid teams are set up at the various institutions that compete. Some FH programs are strictly voluntary and set up as clubs; other schools offer credit for certain aspects of the vehicle design and construction. One professor explained that his students are given an exam on the Formula Hybrid rules.

Sullivan said he was open to additional feedback about the course content and format. He also touted the new textbook being used in the course, Electric Powertrain: Energy Systems, Power Electronics and Drives for Hybrid, Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicles. The book’s author, John G. Hayes, attended the presentation and offered a discount code for the book.