University of Colorado at Colorado Springs engineering students will start designing parts for electric cars beginning in the fall of 2012.

UCCS and University of Colorado Boulder faculty will join forces to teach courses in the design and implementation of electric vehicle drivetrains to new and retraining engineers.

The university faculties won a five-year $954,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to deliver courses that prepare engineers for careers in developing new technologies for electric vehicles.

The master’s-level courses will be taught by both UCCS and CU Boulder faculty who have expertise in batteries, battery controls and power electronics.

The courses will be available through online courses and traditional in-person classrooms, making them available to people nationwide. Fellowships to reduce the cost of the graduate coursework are expected to be available with 30 to 40 students enrolled annually beginning in fall 2012.

“There are thousands of engineers who have either been displaced as the U.S. auto industry shifted or who have an interest in learning about creating vehicles of the future,” said Greg Plett, UCCS professor, UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science. “This program offers them the opportunity to retrain without relocating.”

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Plett, the principal investigator on the project, has spent his career working with battery controls and has close relationships to many Colorado-based companies which manufacture batteries or their controls.

“This program combines the strengths of the faculty of two CU campuses for the benefit of students,” Plett said.