News Releases 2008

LETU to Host Seminar on Future of Electrical Vehicles

Wed, Nov 19 2008

The LeTourneau University Departments of Chemistry and Engineering will present The Future of Electromechanical Engineering: Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Bring Hope for a Changing World on Tuesday, Nov. 25, as part of the fall 2008 science seminar series. The joint-seminar will begin at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the Memorial Student Center and is free of charge and open to the public.
The seminar will feature Mark Gunderson, an LETU alumnus and engineering manager for Continental Automotive Systems of Germany. He will discuss the requirements, technology and safety challenges facing the future of hybrid and electric vehicles as alternative vehicle propulsion redefines the use of automotive electronics.
“I’m sure this is the way things will go in the future,” said LETU electrical engineering professor Bill Graff. “A lot of political and environmental pressures are pushing us ahead in that direction.”
Several electric vehicles will also be featured on campus as hands-on examples of green automotive technology. One electric car will even be given away to a seminar attendee.
Gunderson, engineering manager of battery controls at Continental’s Hybrid Electric Vehicles unit based in Chicago, researches electronic controls for lithium-ion battery systems to be used in automotive and commercial applications, especially in larger systems such as buses and trucks.
According to the Continental Web site, lithium-ion batteries, the latest generation energy storage units, offer significantly greater storage capacity than the battery technology currently in use in hybrid vehicles. However, using lithium-ion technology in vehicles poses particular challenges. 
“We must be very concerned with safety aspects when using so much power and such fast acceleration,” Graff said.
Gunderson, who was featured in the March 2008 issue of Fortune magazine, formerly managed Motorola Automotive Powertrain's Advance Development Group and has worked with clients including Ford, Honda, General Motors, Toyota, Caterpillar and Detroit Diesel.