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Electric Vehicle Projects at JMU's Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab

Date: Wednesday February 3, 2010

Speaker: Rob Prins, Assistant Professor, James Madison University School of Engineering - Click Here for the speaker's bio.

Subject: "Electric Vehicle Projects at JMU's Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab" - View the presentation (3.37 MB PDF)


Electric vehicle conversion or construction projects have proven to be excellent educational tools at JMU, especially for students who do their project work at the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab (AFV).  Recent electric vehicle projects at JMU include electric-assist bicycles, a truck conversion for use in Shenandoah National Park, and an electric motorcycle conversion (ECYCLE).  These projects typically attract students that are interested in electric vehicle technology and the role electric vehicles will play in the future.   Electric vehicle projects offer a rich educational opportunity because of their many technical and social facets.  The variety of technical knowledge that can be applied to the design and construction of an electric vehicle promotes systems thinking while concerns related to broad public acceptance naturally prompt students to consider societal issues.

The ECYCLE project is a good example of an electric vehicle conversion that is specifically intended to promote student consideration of relevant societal contexts while addressing a technical issue.  In this project students converted an old motorcycle to electric power with the intent of competing in land speed trials and drag races.  In October the JMU ECYCLE competed in the final East Coast Timing Association (ECTA) land speed racing event of 2009.  ECTA races are held on a repurposed airstrip at the Maxton-Laurinburg airport near Maxton North Carolina; in October the JMU ECYCLE set a record for electric vehicles at the Maxton track.  While at the ECTA event the students had several opportunities to describe their work to interested track officials as well other racers.  Dr. Prins will address the vehicle conversion process and the technical work of the students as well as the potential significance of exposing expert users of vehicles (racers) to alternative technologies.

Biographical Information:

Rob Prins is an assistant professor who joined James Madison University in 2007 to help develop a School of Engineering.  He has been involved in the development of curriculum and courses for the school.  He also advises student projects for both engineering and ISAT students at the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab (AFV) at JMU.

Rob’s background includes six years of industrial experience: five years as a mechanical design engineer and applications engineer at Perceptron Inc., a machine vision manufacturer and integrator, and one year as a suspension engineer at Visteon Inc.  Rob earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2005 where he performed magnetic bearing research.  Prior to joining JMU he was an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Virginia State University.

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