Once heralded as the future of automotive technology, electric vehicles, or EV, have arrived. The EV market has exploded in recent years, with sales growing by 85% from 2020 to 2021, while hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales more than doubled, resulting in an increase of 138% over the previous year.
Jae-Do Park, PhD, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado Denver, saw a need for more education around this technology, and together with others from the electrical and mechanical engineering departments proposed a micro-credential on the subject. The EV technology course offering is one of six new interdisciplinary micro-credentials launched by the College of Engineering, Design, and Computing.
“Through the electric vehicle technology micro-credential program, students will build the foundational knowledge they need to enter the workforce,” noted Park. “It’s also an opportunity for working professionals to learn a new skill or level up their abilities.”
As an aspiring “university for life,” serving students of all ages and stages of life is a key element of the 2030 Strategic Plan. The micro-credential program also ties directly to another key initiative: CU Denver’s partnership with the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, a nonprofit organization that brings together government, businesses, and allied organizations to improve life for residents across the state. Both the Smart Cities partnership and EV technology micro-credential work in tandem to achieve several strategic objectives, including efforts to create an open innovation district in downtown Denver and solve some of society’s grand challenges through world-class research.
The College of Engineering, Design, and Computing’s focus on innovation in technology is part of what drew Park to CU Denver where he’s taught since 2009.
“At the time, I was working at a startup in California,” Park recalled. “The idea of getting more involved in research and in educating the next generation of engineers was an appealing opportunity, and I’ve been here ever since.”
The electric vehicle technology micro-credential currently includes two courses designed to provide students with fundamental and theoretical knowledge of powertrains and aerodynamics. Park plans to address additional topics such as EV/HEV drivetrain configurations and energy storage technologies in future courses.
“As the micro-credential program matures, we plan to add more courses and more depth,” explained Park. “I look forward to integrating a lab component that will give students the opportunity to gain hands-on EV experience.”