Green Car Research Gets Fed Grants Boost

Technology and education are two things the Obama administration is vowing to continue to support in lean budget times, so this move, coming right at the intersection of those two priorities, isn’t surprising: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $5 million in new funding for the Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Centers of Excellence.

GATE centers are integrated into engineering programs at universities around the country. The goal is to provide multidisciplinary instruction and research that focuses on cutting-edge automotive technologies, such as hybrids, fuel cells, advanced computation and simulation, energy storage systems, biofuels and lightweight materials.

GATE Center of Excellence, UC Davis

image via UC Davis GATE Center of Excellence

The DOE didn’t say exactly where the $5 million will go – because it doesn’t know yet. Instead, it is asking universities to apply for grants by April 18. In the formal announcement of the grant opportunity, available through the FedConnect website, the department said it expects to make five to eight awards ranging in value from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The awards are restricted to first-time applicants to the program, which began in 2005, and will help support curriculum development and expansion, as well as graduate fellowships in “critical automotive technologies.”

In addition to fitting with the administration’s larger “winning the future” vision, the DOE said the programs at the GATE centers “will also help to achieve President Obama’s ambitious goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.