U of T Engineering to launch new certificate in electric vehicle design

An overhead view of electric vehicles and designated spaces in a parking lot

(photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering will launch a new electric vehicle design certificate for undergraduate students this fall.

The program aims to prepare the next generation of electric vehicle (EV) engineers for professional and research opportunities in the growing industry. 

“EVs have tremendous potential to improve local and global climates, which fits right in with our faculty’s broader goals of sustainability and environmental considerations,” says Professor Dionne Aleman, the faculty’s associate dean of cross-disciplinary programs.  

“From battery design to sustainability to infrastructure, engineering is a big part of advancing EV technology. We want engineering students to be able to hit the ground running in this exciting and growing field if they want careers in electrification.”  

The widespread adoption of EVs has come into greater focus as governments across the globe develop new policies to achieve net-zero emissions goals by 2050. In Canada, the federal government has set a zero-emissions vehicle sales target by 2035, which will require all new cars, trucks and SUVs to be battery operated.   

To meet this demand, the EV industry will require a workforce that can advance all facets of electrification technology, from vehicle design and charging technologies, to battery capacity and thermal management of power systems. This work is multidisciplinary, spanning mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, computer and materials science engineering.  

While many U of T Engineering courses include aspects of EV design, the faculty has delved deeper into EV-focused topics in the past year with two graduate-level courses in electric vehicle systems and thermal science.  

The new certificate will expand on these offerings to provide eligible undergraduate students with an understanding of the technical and environmental implications of engineering in EV design. It includes a new course, APS380: Introduction to Electric Vehicle Design.    

“The EV Design certificate is the beginning of a start-to-finish investigation into both the design of EVs and their integration into society,” says Matthew Mackay, an associate professor, teaching stream, in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, who worked with Olivier Trescases, a professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), to design the introductory course.   

“Since EVs are inherently multidisciplinary, having students first encounter this content through the certificate and a multidisciplinary design course will expose them to the challenges and knowledge they would not otherwise see through a single-program outlook.”  

The APS380 course is a broad-based introduction to EV design, which makes the technical content accessible to students across engineering programs.   

“This certificate is part of a multi-year effort to bring EV teaching to our departments. It will take some time for us to grow the capacity of this effort as new lab spaces, lecturers and courses are brought in,” says Mackay.  

“But we want this to be an inclusive experience for students. If someone is interested but doesn’t have the required experience, we hope that they can come to see us anyway – there may always be opportunity to join.” 

Trescases says there is a growing demand for engineers with specialized EV skills in Ontario.

“In ECE we’ve been teaching core EV topics like electric motors and power electronics to undergraduates for a long time, in courses like ECE314, ECE463 and ECE520. This new multi-disciplinary course takes a more ‘systems/application’ perspective and I think that it will be a great complementary offering for our students,” he says.

“In developing the labs and the course content for APS380 we leveraged elements of our research at [the U of T Electric Vehicle Research Centre, or UTEV], our new EV graduate course, as well as the new Porsche EV microcredential that we offer to industry through the School of Continuing Studies.”

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