U-M to receive funds to prepare workforce for green technology

August 6, 2009

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan will create courses to pave the way for a new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles, using $2.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding announced Wednesday by the White House.

Huei Peng, a professor of mechanical engineering and executive director of Interdisciplinary and Professional Engineering Programs, leads an effort to create classes at universities, as well as educational programs for K-12 students and the general public. The object: teach a vibrant work force that can create a new green breed of vehicle.

“We want to develop all opportunities so the workforce in Michigan can be transformed,” Peng said.

This U-M grant came as part of an announcement by President Barack Obama of 48 advanced battery and electric-drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion.

The Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program grants, announced by Vice President Joseph Biden at NextEnergy in Detroit, were part of more than $1 billion going to companies and universities based in Michigan. Reflecting the state?s leadership in clean-energy manufacturing, Michigan companies and institutions are receiving the largest share of grant funding of any state.

The announcement marks the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made. Industry officials expect that this investment, coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost-sharing from the award winners, will result in the creation of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. battery and auto industries.

The U-M, Wayne State University in Detroit and Michigan Technological University in Houghton will receive a total of more than $10 million for education and work force training programs to train researchers, technicians and service providers, and to conduct consumer research to accelerate the transition toward advanced vehicles and batteries.

The U-M grant will create 10 courses on topics such as hybrid electronics, batteries and green power. About half the courses will be taught at U-M in Ann Arbor, the others at UM-Dearborn and Kettering University in Flint, Peng said. Two laboratories will be developed to support the graduate and undergraduate courses, some of which likely will begin winter semester.

There also are plans for an energy summer camp for K-12 students and other energy outreach programs for the general public.

The program was developed with industry partners with the support of Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

Peng is a fellow with U-M?s Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M.

Also announced today, two companies, A123 and Johnson Controls, will receive a total of approximately $550 million to establish a manufacturing base in the state for advanced batteries.

Two others, Compact Power and Dow Kokam, will receive more than $300 million to manufacture battery cells and materials.

Large automakers based in Michigan, including GM, Chrysler and Ford, will receive a total of more than $400 million to manufacture thousands of advanced hybrid and electric vehicles as well as batteries and electric drive components.