WARRENSBURG, MO - The University of Central Missouri's (UCM) Automotive Technology Management Program has been awarded a $5 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study advanced electric drive vehicles (AEVs).

Earlier this year, UCM joined with the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Linn State Technical College in Linn, and the Missouri Science Center in St. Louis, to apply for funding related to AEV education programs. UCM will receive about $650,000 over the next three years to carry out its commitment to the joint grant. The Missouri Safety Center and members of the Automotive Technology Management Program will have different areas of focus.

"It will require a 20-percent match from our campus," said Scott Wilson, associate professor and coordinator of the automotive technology management program in UCM's School of Technology. "We believe we can take care of that through existing equipment, equipment donations, and other opportunities which will make our cost minimal."

Wilson and Terry Nicoletti, assistant professor, are principal investigators for the grant in the automotive technology area. They were joined in the application process by Terry Butler, director of the Missouri Safety Center, with additional assistance from Teresa Fayle, staff member in the Office of Sponsored Research.

Under the grant agreement, Missouri University of Science and Technology will focus on development of courses to train AEV engineers, the Missouri Science Center will address public outreach, and UCM and Linn State will develop courses for operators, technicians and product support managers.

Nicoletti and Wilson plan to create an undergraduate certificate program for AEVs as well as education materials for technicians and trainers who will be involved with electric vehicles. Six courses will be developed toward the certificate for non-degree seeking individuals who are interested in AEV technology, and those courses could be used as an endorsement for traditional four-year automotive technology management majors.

"It is our intent to have the certificate and all courses in place by the end of the third year of the grant. We do have some courses that already exist, but they will need to be modified," Nicoletti said.

The grant begins in January 2010. The first two years will be spent on research, course and materials development, with some courses being offered on a pilot basis.

"In the next five to 10 years, 50 to 60 percent of passenger vehicles will have some sort of electric motor," Nicoletti noted. "We will work with manufacturers to develop the content for our courses."

Wilson and Nicoletti expect high school instructors, community college instructors, industry trainers and others to be able to complete the certificate requirements, then assist in teaching AEV courses at their respective companies and institutions.

The Missouri Safety Center will develop non-academic safety awareness training short courses designed to educate individuals on AEV safety concerns, including hands-on driver safety training. These courses will include educational outreach to AEV fleet purchasers, AEV technicians and maintenance personnel, AEV drivers, law enforcement and emergency management services personnel, as well as the general public.

The courses will be developed in formats that include workshops and in-service training, and opportunities via the Internet such as webinars. The Missouri Safety Center will create a Web-based short course for the general public as an overview of all AEV types and concerns for personal use. It is a course that also can be used as a curriculum supplement for high school driver education. The first year of the grant will be spent on course development with delivery available to different constituencies beginning in the next two years.

The Missouri Safety Center has previous experience working with the DOE. Butler said the center received a grant from the DOE in the early 1980s to conduct driver energy conservation awareness training.