ECE Research Abstracts

GATE Center of Excellence in Innovative Drivetrains in Electric Automotive Technology Education (IDEATE)

Principal Investigator:

Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Dr. Regan A. Zane, University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder)
  • Dr. M. Scott Trimboli, (UCCS)
  • Dr. Dragan Maksimovic, (CU-Boulder)


This is a critical point in history where advanced engineering solutions are required to propel the U.S. automotive industry irrevocably to the next level: the electrified drivetrain. The present workforce is not sufficient to this task. It is imperative that automotive engineers with traditional backgrounds focused on internal combustion and mechanical drivetrain technologies be retrained with the most current advanced solutions in battery controls and vehicle power electronics. For the long-term success of the U.S. automakers, it is even more important that a future workforce be developed that has both broad and deep comprehension of the issues involved and the most advanced solutions known to these problems.

Two campuses of the University of Colorado system are uniting to submit this proposal to establish the GATE Center of Excellence in Innovative Drivetrains in Electric Automotive Technology Education (IDEATE). The University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is widely regarded as having one of the top graduate programs in power electronics in the country; the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) has unrivaled expertise in algorithms for automotive battery control. By collaborating, IDEATE will build on our team’s proven strengths to develop innovative curricula and to initiate courses and programs that will provide students with a unique opportunity for holistic and specialty education in electric drivetrain technology. Graduates from these programs will provide benefit not only to major automotive manufacturers, but also to new electric drivetrain focused small businesses and suppliers. Specifically, IDEATE has four principal objectives, which are illustrated in Figure 1:

  • Establish graduate certificate in electric drivetrain technology: UCCS will develop two new courses in battery modeling for controls and in algorithm development for high-capacity battery pack controls. CU-Boulder will develop a new course in power electronics for electric drive vehicles, and will refresh an existing course to focus on design of adjustable speed AC drives. These four graduate courses will form a new graduate certificate in electric drivetrain technology that will be offered jointly by both campuses and will be available to both continuing-education and on-campus students.
  • Establish graduate degree options to educate a future workforce: Leveraging the new courses developed for the graduate certificate in electric drivetrain technology, and strength of the existing curricula, both campuses will establish new Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) degree options. UCCS will offer an option in battery controls, including a new course in methods of optimization; CU-Boulder will offer an option in vehicle power electronics.
  • Support fundamental research to develop new enabling technology: The new courses will provide background enabling PhD research in areas critical for the long-term success of the electric drivetrain.
  • Have local appeal but national impact: Leveraging already strong on-line course and certificate offerings, all of the new courses and the graduate certificate in electric drivetrain technology will be made available on-line, enabling students anywhere in the country to complete their coursework without the need to relocate to Colorado.

University of Michigan for "GM-UM Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains", by Gregory Plett

Gregory Plett, Associate Professor, received a research contract ($750,000 for five years) from the University of Michigan for research in battery controls for vehicle application.


We are at an exciting juncture in history where advanced engineering solutions are required to propel the automotive industry to the next level, the electrified drivetrain. For this to be a commercial success, it is vitally important to develop better modeling, controls, packaging, and protection of the battery systems therein. UCCS is please to partner with General Motors and the University of Michigan in the GM-UM Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains. Our contribution to this project will be focused on the battery controls aspect: What means are available to influence the battery, and how may they be exploited in a multi-objective optimization to maximize battery life, efficiency, and performance?

Agency for Defense Development/Kwangwoon University for "Research on a S-band, 1kW pulsed TWT", by Heather Song

Heather Song, Assistant Professor, received a research contract ($182,515 for three years) from Agency for Defense Development/Kwangwoon University for "Research on a S-band, 1kW pulsed TWT".


There is significant interest in compact and light weight amplifiers with moderately high-power (up to 1000 W) and wide-bandwidth capabilities for applications such as phased array radar applications. One of the most promising microwave amplifiers that can satisfy the above requirements, specifically at the S-band frequencies, is the MPM due to its unique broadband interaction capability with an extremely compact and lightweight structure.

The MPM consists of solid-state power amplifier (SSA), a vacuum power booster (VPB) traveling-wave tube, and an electronic or integrated power conditioner (EPC or IPC). Due to their small size, light weight, high power, and high efficiency, the MPMs have already found application on mobile and physically constrained electronics platforms. Towed decoys, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ship-board and airborne EW, and mobile and man-portable ground-based satellite terminals are examples of platforms benefiting from MPM insertions. Therefore MPMs continue to draw strong interest and demand for further improvements in performance for the various communications, electronic warfare, and radar systems that require such attributes. Particularly, there is a growing interest in the MPM that operates in S-band for phased array radar application needs. However the critical roadblock to full exploitation of the S-band MPM is the lack of compact, powerful coherent vacuum power booster TWTs that are reliable, frequency agile, efficient, and relatively inexpensive.

The University of Colorado is developing a S-band 1 kW pulsed TWT which offers a solution and significant promise for lighter and more practical MPM systems. This will extend the state-of-the art microwave technology to a new level of high power regime and provide record-shattering performance for bandwidth, noise, efficiency, and compact packaging. It is expected that the TWT will provide unprecedented lifetimes and reliability, as demonstrated by satellite TWTs and space exploration TWTs.

"Design and Fabrication of Tunable Ka Band Filters using BST capacitors", by T.S. Kalkur

T.S. Kalkur, Professor, received a research contract ($70k) from Army Research Lab STTR subcontract through SMI Industries, NJ., for "Design and Fabrication of Tunable Ka Band Filters using BST capacitors".


In this project, we will fabricate tunable filters in Ka band on sapphire substrates. Compositionally tuned BST will be fabricated by Dr. Nick Sbrockey of SMI Industries, NJ by Metallorganic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD). The physics modeling of the device structures will be performed by Prof. Pamir Alpay, University of Connecticut. The material characterization will be performed by Prof. Jon Spanier, Drexel University. Prof. Kalkur will perform, design, fabrication and microwave characterization of Ka band filters.