Author Topic: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?  (Read 978 times)

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Offline Dmeads

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Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« on: March 26, 2019, 03:16:10 pm »
Hello all!

I hope your week is going well!

I am a junior (but a little behind due to health) in a Renewable Energy Engineering Major at a college in Southern Oregon, United states.

The Renewable Energy Engineering Major is a combination of Electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemistry, with the majority of the curriculum (>80%) coming from electrical engineering classes.

My goal is to work in Electric vehicles, specifically motor control/power-train design.

I am getting to the point in my school where I can start taking elective courses, or just other courses that would be useful to put me towards my goal of working in EVs (I wouldn't mind spending a few extra terms in school so I can gain maximum knowledge).

My questions go out to all engineers working with EVs or anyone who knows about them:

-What classes prepared you most for your career?

-Are there any you wish you took?

-What coursework or projects do you like to see from graduates coming into the work force?

-I could potentially learn MATLAB/Labview, C++, or learn how to program FPGAs, although only MATLAB is required for my major. Which would you recommend?

Thank you so so so much in advance for your comments!!


edit:

I have only taken circuit analysis 1 and 2 classes, as well as one 300 level introductory electronics course. However, I do a lot of research on my own. I have built AC-DC converters, linear regulators, Buck converters, Boost converters, DACs, worked with Arduinos, and I just started working on a sensored ESC for a BLDC motor. In the Electronics class we built the basic stuff like amplifiers with transistors, op-amps, and looked at bode plots. I have a very strong understanding of these topics, and I just wanted to show what experience I have in order to make it easier for you to answer my question.

« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 03:29:38 pm by Dmeads »
 

Offline digsys

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2019, 04:14:48 pm »
Can't help you with your specific questions, but here are my 2c worth :-)
Been in EV design / solar cars for app 20 yrs. I do batteries / management / safety / control systems etc
I've worked with several motor / power systems engineers, and nearly all were extremely practical / inventive. In EVERY case though, they had joined /
associated themselves with in-house university groups ie Formulae SAE electric / solar car groups, even in their early years.
Some have gone on to form big companies - ie electric charge stations / solar power inverters of all sizes etc etc
They'll all tell you, the practical experience in the clubs, and networking with other like minded engineers was crucial. Naturally, they had to know the
science / maths / physics etc Good luck, hope you join the EV club.
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Offline aksg81

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 12:57:02 am »
I'm not in the EV industry per se, but currently working on research projects in academia with industry sponsors. I can give you my perspective as an educator.
I feel that as an undergrad you need to build a broad base of fundamentals. You have already mentioned analog, digital and embedded topics, you should take a few courses in power electronics and power systems, and especially electric machines if you can. In industry today (in my experience) it is easy to find embedded, analog and digital design engineers. Motor designers, experts in magnetics (design of inductors, transformers and even machines) are fewer and if these are areas that interest you and you become good at them you will be greatly valued.

Also, as mentioned in the previous post, hands on experience is the best training - find and join your EV student group or solar car challenge.

 

Offline rayadientes

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 07:43:57 pm »
Focus yourself in the solar area, I sure next 20 years is gonna be rising up every day, and it will dominate the energy market very quickly.
To get some experience you need to take courses related to the electric recharge and the types of renewable energy existing in the market.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2019, 12:12:32 am by rayadientes »
 

Offline frogg

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2019, 02:23:01 am »
"specifically motor control/power-train design."

It goes without saying that strong skills in Power Electronics and Power systems is fundamentally much more important for this goal.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2019, 02:25:38 am by frogg »
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2019, 08:09:08 am »
"specifically motor control/power-train design."

It goes without saying that strong skills in Power Electronics and Power systems is fundamentally much more important for this goal.
But how many different ways are there to implement a drive for a motor? It seems to me motor drives have been pretty much turned into beaten paths by now. Just copy & paste using the best parts available right now.

To the OP: If you are interested in mobility solutions I'd focus on a much wider field. There are a ton of technological advances like communication between vehicles and vehicles between infrastructure, driving aids (self driving cars), etc on. I'd be wary of getting focussed on a very narrow field. For example: I never really cared much about telecom but I've worked the first 6 years of my career in companies developing telecom equipment.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2019, 07:41:15 am »
But how many different ways are there to implement a drive for a motor? It seems to me motor drives have been pretty much turned into beaten paths by now.
You'd be amazed what goes on to create a really efficient motor controller. It's not just an h bridge with a state machine ...


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Offline digsys

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2019, 09:19:07 am »
Quote from: free_electron
Quote from: nctnico
But how many different ways are there to implement a drive for a motor? It seems to me motor drives have been pretty much turned into beaten paths by now.
You'd be amazed what goes on to create a really efficient motor controller. It's not just an h bridge with a state machine ...
Absafookinlootly ! There are many EV teams developing better multi-phase / synchronous / regen etc etc drive systems constantly. Wide band power efficiency /
regen efficiency etc etc still are no where near "ideal". Noting that the difference between a 98.5% efficient motor and one at 99.5% is NOT 1% !!!! NOT by a long
shot ! It represents 100% extra loss in heat alone ! so for a 20-50KW motor, that is huge ! Then keeping efficiency up high across all power levels still has a LOT
of development work to go. Plus there are several other engineering challenges that have to be addressed.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2019, 10:16:16 am »
Still how many people can work on this realistically. And do you want to turn something like this into your life's work -if you even get a chance to actually work on these kind of problems- ? It is not wise to narrow your career right at the start.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline digsys

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2019, 11:05:33 am »
Quote from: nctnico
Still how many people can work on this realistically. And do you want to turn something like this into your life's work ..
Quote from: Dmeads
.... My goal is to work in Electric vehicles, specifically motor control/power-train design .... 
As the OP stated, that's the area he is interested in, and motor control (efficiency) is a VERY intense field, and well regarded / sought after.
As it is the area he is interested in, he can then hop on over to ANY other similar area, once he has a "foothold" here. Just presenting a known area of interest.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2019, 01:15:56 am »
Still how many people can work on this realistically. And do you want to turn something like this into your life's work -if you even get a chance to actually work on these kind of problems- ? It is not wise to narrow your career right at the start.
Same can be said for many other things.
how many more programmers do we need ?  there's already so many.

The thing about power electronics is that it is applicable to a wide range of fields : power distribution , conversion, storage and generation.
- inverters for solar
- chargers for batteries
- drivers for motors
- home storage

All those things are power electronics. You try to design an efficient 50 kw charger, then scale that to a gigawatt capable system. There is very little wiggle room there. Get it wrong and you end up with a smoldering crater.
There are many new technologies being developed. Multiphasic resonant converters for example.
Just developing a proper driver for the power mosfets itself is an art.

Motor drivers for automotive need to work from varying input voltage and be able to deal with very high currents. You want to make that thing as compact as possible : shorter wiring = less losses , less weight yields longer range. Many things have multiple impacts.

Understanding how magnetics behave ( whether transformer or motor) and driving them properly is the key. Designing the magnetics is yet another specialty... the era of just grabbing a stack of M plates and throwing on some copper winding is long gone. That stuff worked at 50 or 60Hz.  Special wire alloys and core materials. All the way to developing those alloys. There's plenty of work in that field...
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Offline DougSpindler

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2019, 01:39:27 am »
You are in luck.  The College you want to attend in located just down the coast from just North of San Francisco at the College of Marin.  They have the "BEST" EV vehicle classes, professors, labs and most importantly modern lab equipment in the Western United States.  This program was incredible well funded when EV cars came and gets an enormous amount of funding and support from industry.
 

Offline DougSpindler

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Re: Want to work in Electric vehicles, which classes to take?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2019, 01:48:23 am »
Crud can't believe how many posters are so negative on the original poster's question. 

Poster clearly stated his major and his goal. - "My goal is to work in Electric vehicles, specifically motor control/power-train design. "

The original poster has to be really interested in EVs and wants to make a difference in the world and you dummies are telling the poster to do something he's not interested in?  How stupid is that?

The world needs people like this, not answers like yours.   


 
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