Solutions for the Automotive Industry
Through a multidisciplinary curriculum and real-world experiences with industry partners, UTA is training the future workforce of automotive professionals to develop advanced automotive technologies.
On-demand, autonomous public transportation
UTA professors and the city of Arlington are conducting a pilot project funded by a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that deploys autonomous vehicles around UTA’s campus and downtown Arlington. The project is a partnership between the city, the University, Via Rideshare, and May Mobility. Data gathered from the ridesharing app is analyzed to understand the effectiveness of emerging autonomous ridesharing services.
Scientists at the UTA Research Institute have partnered with Walmart, Lockheed Martin, and others to conduct research into various challenges of on-road transportation. To date, the institute’s research and development have contributed to the following capabilities:
- Robust navigation and control algorithms for autonomous vehicles with intermittent communication
- Human-machine-interfacing for intuitive and safe operation of automated manufacturing technology and co-bots
- Vision-based localization and mapping and machine learning for advanced machine vision
- Performance prediction of recycled composite materials
- Upperbody exoskeleton for human performance assistance and safety in manufacturing environments
Environmental sustainability training
In San Antonio, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) trained eight onsite suppliers for the Toyota Motor Corporation facility on how to implement an environmental management system as set forth by the International Organization for Standardization.
E3: Economy, Energy, and Environment is a federal technical assistance framework helping communities, manufacturers, and manufacturing supply chains adapt and thrive in today’s green economy. In Mexico, TMAC partnered with Ford Motor Company to deliver E3 assessment covering lean, energy, environmental, and sustainability topics to a number of its second-tier suppliers.
Building cars from scratch
The Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering, directed by Professor Robert Woods, promotes engineering education, innovation, and entrepreneurship, especially through student participation in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) program. Each year, participating students design an FSAE car from the tires up and then race their vehicles against collegiate teams across the country. Established in 1982, the team is one of the most successful in the series’ history, having won eight championships in the United States and three abroad. The program can claim innovative changes in the automotive industry, including moveable wings to reduce drag and an all-electric FSAE race car. UTA was the only team from the United States to compete in the recent Global Electric Vehicle Challenge, a two-phase competition involving more than a dozen international teams. UTA placed third in the aerodynamics category; second in the electromechanical design and controls category; second in the electrical systems, battery, and battery management category; fourth in the quality of report category and fourth place overall.
A UTA graduate student in computer science who also works as a research assistant in the UTA FabLab contributed through an internship at Tesla, the electric vehicle company. Vikram Gupta’s internship took place at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. He said his specialized training in the FabLab was crucial to his Tesla application. “My main purpose with this job is to keep all the machines working and have minimum downtime for our learners,” Gupta said. “All of the things I learned to do at this job at least indirectly helped me get this intern¬ship.”
Alyssa Hammonds, computer science student, received a three-month internship with General Motors. During her appointment, Hammonds developed and debugged control logic for sensors and switches to prevent misplaced engine covers from damaging RTV dispensers. Her contributions helped to eliminate 20-minute delays to correct misplaced covers.
Autonomous vehicles, vehicle cybersecurity and transportation analytics
Bill Beksi, professor of computer science and engineering, an expert in computer vision and robotics, is developing cyberinfrastructure and algorithms for automated route planning, and robotic vision capabilities in automated tractors in precision agriculture applications.
Habeeb Olufowobi, professor of computer science and engineering, focuses on research in security and privacy challenges in emerging network technologies for connected autonomous vehicles.
Taylor Li, professor of civil engineering, Steve Mattingly, professor of civil engineering, and Jay Rosenberger, professor of industrial engineering are integrating traditional traffic data and emerging internet-based traffic data to provide better interpretation and prediction of highway traffic conditions.
Yiran Yang, professor of industrial engineering, focuses her research on sustainability practices in advanced manufacturing to enhance the environmental and economic sustainability of additive manufacturing through waste recycling, process-level characterization of sustainability measures, process and product modeling and optimization, and life cycle analysis.
Electrochemical energy systems, batteries
Ankur Jain, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, works in energy conversion and storage and heat transfer in Li-ion batteries. His lab is carrying out experiments to understand thermal transport in Li-ion cells. He is also developing integrated models to understand the interactions between thermal, electrical, and electrochemical phenomena in Li-ion cells. Jain has also collaborated with David Wetz, professor of electrical engineering, on thermal transport research in Li-ion cells.
Wetz has research interests in pulsed power and electrochemical energy systems. One of his research interests is the study of the aging phenomena of electrochemical energy storage devices cycled at high rates of charge and discharge. He received an ONR YIP award for research in this area.
Stathis Meletis, professor of materials science and engineering, has a materials corrosion lab and is interested in studying the cathode degradation problem in Li-ion batteries by examining ionization/reduction on cathode surfaces.
Energy: Solar and other renewables, distribution, smart grid
UTA’s Energy Systems Research Center, led by Wei-Jen Lee, professor of electrical engineering, and his team, is working on a project on adaptive design for controllability of a system of plug-in electric vehicle charging stations. This project presents an integration of typical electricity grid and renewable energy resources including wind and PV energy systems for PHEV charging stations in the DFW area.
UTA’s Center for Renewable Energy and Science Technology, directed by Krishnan Rajeshwar, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Brian Dennis, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, engages in research projects such as converting lignite to low-cost crude oil, converting natural gas to sulfur diesel and aviation fuel, and nanotechnology-based reactors for converting plant fats to liquid fuel, among others.