Writer: Rod Guajardo
With the goal of enhancing research, education and outreach opportunities in a rapidly developing technological field, the University of Georgia has established a campuswide Electric Mobility Initiative that will provide seed funding for new projects and bring together thought leaders to discuss innovative approaches to electric mobility across Georgia and the region.
Electric mobility refers to vehicles like cars, trucks, bicycles, boats and aircraft that use electric powertrain technologies for propulsion. The field of electric mobility has grown significantly in recent years with the development of smart infrastructure, wireless communications, and most importantly, efficient energy storage technology such as high-capacity batteries. These developments have converged to make electric mobility competitive with vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.
“We’re pleased to announce that the University of Georgia will be leading this comprehensive Electric Mobility Initiative in an effort to understand the wide range of impacts associated with the electrification of transportation infrastructure,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “This initiative will span our entire campus and allow for all academic units to contribute to this exciting, developing tech space.”
Initial partners in the UGA Electric Mobility Initiative include faculty, staff and students from the College of Engineering, the School of Public and International Affairs, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Terry College of Business.
The College of Engineering will assess the opportunities and challenges associated with advanced electric energy technology, smart infrastructure and interconnected communications on the integrated transportation network.
The School of Public and International Affairs will explore energy security, regulatory and public financing facets of electric mobility.
The Terry College of Business will examine the economic, human and natural capital impact of scaling electric mobility and its effects on sustainable development goals.
The Vinson Institute will use its extensive statewide network to understand how electric vehicle technology will impact communities in Georgia and enhance the economic competitiveness of the state.
These initiatives will seed other efforts on campus that leverage the comprehensive land-grant mission of UGA, while also seeking to partner with industry throughout the state.
“The potential applications of this developing technology are endless and could greatly impact communities across the state of Georgia in so many ways,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Electric mobility technology will play an important role in the state and nation going forward, and UGA’s involvement is a testament toward our ongoing goal to connect the university’s expertise with communities and partners across the state.”
UGA will invest $1 million in seed funding over the next five years to initiate new projects, including the development of educational programs such as the E-Mobility Certificate and research activities in battery re-use and recycling, including the creation of a laboratory that will be housed in the new Interdisciplinary STEM Research Complex. Private support has already been obtained for faculty development, student projects and efforts to enhance the health and resilience of vulnerable communities.
An Electric Mobility Summit is planned April 28-29 on the UGA campus in Athens to bring together industry, educational institutions and government agencies to assess the state of electric mobility in Georgia and the region. Participants will discuss existing and future education programs to support workforce development and assess the economic impact of future electric transportation technologies in communities across Georgia.