You’d be excused for never hearing of Kettering University. After all, the Flint, Mich., school enrolls just 2,000 students, doesn’t have a football team and emphasizes science, engineering and math. But Kettering does have a unique focus that might make them a bit more notable: a new Advanced Power Electronics Lab.
Kettering is built upon property that used to be the main manufacturing location for General Motors. It is named after Charles Kettering, an inventor and former head of research for General Motors, so it’s no surprise that the new lab has a bit of an automotive slant.
To that end, student Mori Yatsui, a 2011 dual graduate in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, is now a research assistant for Dr. Kevin Bai, an assistant professor of Electric and Computer Engineering. Kettering is promoting Yatsui and his work on a new state-of-charge detection system for battery systems. “This new laboratory allows Kettering to push our students and faculty into the front lines of the market to build relationships with companies,” he said. “Part of the education process is undoubtedly the task of keeping students in the present day market and ideas of the future, so information that we obtain in this lab is passed down into the teaching.”
The lab is also busy working with Magna E-Car to develop a power factor correction device and a high-powered battery charger that will allow owners of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to charge their batteries faster and more efficiently. It is also working with Progressive Dynamics to improve battery life. Another project, this one with Tenneco, one of the world’s leading producers of emissions control products, entails designing an overdrive system based on a traditional 12-volt battery. The project seeks to control the supply of air by controlling the speed of the air pump through the battery.