New CU engineering research center aims to electrify transportation, expand education 

Wednesday August 5, 2020 0 comments Tags: Boulder, CU Boulder, ASPIRE, Terri Fiez, Qin Lv

BOULDER -- The University of Colorado Boulder will play a major role in a new center focused on developing infrastructure and systems that facilitate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.CU_logoUSE_1 

ASPIRE—Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification—will explore a diverse range of transportation questions, from electrified highways that energize vehicles to the placement of charging stations, data security and workforce development. 

The center is funded by a $26 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and is led by Utah State University. The University of Colorado Boulder will receive $4 million over the first five years.

If renewed for another five years, the University of Colorado  Boulder will receive another $4 million out of the total $50.6 million grant. 

“CU Boulder has a well-earned reputation as a leader in sustainability-focused research and innovation,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Terri Fiez.

“ASPIRE will provide our researchers with an exciting new opportunity for global impact through the collaborative reimagining of the future of transportation as we know it.” 

ASPIRE’s work will be based on research, education and workforce development, diversity and culture of inclusion, and innovation—and aims to improve health and quality of life for everyone by catalyzing sustainable and equitable electrification across the transportation industries.

“We need to understand the factors that are impacting the development and adoption of this technology so that we're solving the right problems,” said Qin Lv, ASPIRE’s University of Colorado Boulder campus director and co-principal investigator of the Engineering Research Center.

ASPIRE will create a connected system encompassing K-12 experiences, undergraduate and graduate degrees, trades and professional workforce learning pathways, with seamless transitions among them, to develop a diverse engineering workforce trained to support cross-industry transformations. 

“Convergent multidisciplinary thinking together with diversity and culture of inclusion will be tightly integrated into our curricula and research projects,” said Dragan Maksimovic, co-director of ASPIRE's Engineering Workforce Development, member of the power research thrust and co-director of the Colorado Power Electronics Center (CoPEC). 

“We aim to break boundaries among disciplines and develop a diverse engineering workforce whose members strive for inclusion and equity for all, not only in engineering, but also in the society as a whole.”

CU Boulder faculty from multiple departments within the College of Engineering and Applied Science are involved with ASPIRE.

In addition to Lv from the Department of Computer Science, they include Maksimovic, Bri-Mathias Hodge and Emiliano Dall’anese of the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering; Jana Milford from the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Environmental Engineering Program; and Jacquelyn Sullivan and Nick Stites from the Engineering Plus Program and Integrated Teaching and Learning Program. 

“Advancements like this require interdisciplinary engineering efforts. That is why faculty with diverse backgrounds from across our departments and programs make up the core of this new center,” said Keith Molenaar, the college’s interim dean.

“The questions they will study are important ones here in Colorado, across our nation and around the globe. I have no doubt that we will see the impact of their work on our transportation systems in the near future.” 

While headquartered at Utah State, it will be operated through strategic partnerships with several universities, including Purdue University, University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Auckland New Zealand. Additional partners include researchers at Colorado State University, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Virginia Tech and Cornell University and four national laboratories, including the National Renewable Energy Lab.