Education in Electric Vehicle Systems: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

Written by Chun Sing Lai, Mohamed Darwish, and Maysam Abbod

Electric vehicles (EVs) are key technologies in research and development towards decarbonising road transportation. It is a general perception that vehicles are related to automotive technology and vehicular dynamics, which are still relevant today. However, EVs differ significantly   from vehicles with internal combustion engines. EVs use electrical motors for propulsion and batteries as  energy sources.

This article reports the lessons and learning outcomes in an Electric Vehicle Systems course designed to equip advanced students with knowledge of low-carbon electric vehicle systems and advanced battery technologies. Unlike a traditional automotive course, this course focuses on the key areas of electronic and electrical engineering related to electric vehicle systems. These include power electronics and drives, vehicular communication systems, sustainable smart energy systems, intelligent systems, and embedded systems, which all contribute to the design of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and converter topologies.

The use of advanced technologies in a course’s teaching system empowers educators, while enabling students to digest knowledge and acquire skills more efficiently, effectively, conveniently, and flexibly. SMART teaching also encourages more interaction between students and teachers. There are at least five characteristics of a well-written SMART teaching objective, and these elements make up the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Students can incorporate successful study skills that, when practiced overtime, become good habits. Students learn to be more productive, gain confidence, and acquire independence. SMART learning helps students contribute to a setting where all experience a safe, healthy sharing environment which encourages respect and high expectations, maximizes potential, and stimulates interest and enthusiasm. SMART learning provides a higher level of engagement among students than traditional forms of learning. It involves digital content, including multimedia files, presentations, and animations, in order to explain complex concepts in engineering and science in a simplified manner, by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable parts.

Students will have access to modern technical facilities including computers, electronics, and power and control laboratories, where they work on practical laboratory-based exercises. The latest industry-standard engineering software packages are available for students to use in purpose-built computer laboratories.

In order to meet the net-zero emission target and fulfil the national agenda, there will be an industry demand for engineers with specialisation in electric vehicle systems. The interest in EV education is expanding globally. There are multidisciplinary collaborations from different engineering departments with the aim of building new graduates who possess knowledge and research skills in the fields of Enhanced Energy Management, including advanced modelling, monitoring, and control of electric vehicle subsystems. This also includes knowledge and research skills in: energy storage with consideration of comprehensive lifecycle deployment of electric vehicle batteries; advanced power modules, such as advanced integrated power modules for ultra-compact chargers; next-generation powertrains with innovative system topologies to increase the efficiency of electric vehicle powertrains; ubiquitous charging (i.e.  fast, on-board, and wireless charging solutions) to reduce range anxiety; and electric vehicle opportunities to expand the utility of electric vehicles and batteries.

Figure 1 shows four engineering students participating in electric vehicle range modelling from the EV course at Brunel University London, as part of the UK-Saudi Electric Vehicles Education and Research Network.


fig 1 students participating in electric vehicle range modelling with supervision

 Figure 1: Students participating in electric vehicle range modelling with supervision from academic members.


Further Reading

  1. Electric Vehicle Systems MSc:
  2. UK-Saudi R&D for emerging electric vehicles technologies:
  3. Darwish, M., Rady, M., Abbod, M., Almatrafi, E. and Lai, C.S., 2022, August. Forecourt Electric Vehicles Charging Hubs–UK and Saudi Research and Education Collaboration. In 2022 57th International Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.


This article was edited by Bernard Fong.

To view all articles in this issue, please go to July 2023 eNewsletter. For a downloadable copy, please visit the IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center.

chun sing lai
Chun Sing Lai (Senior Member, IEEE) received his B.Eng. (first-class Hons.) in Electrical and Electronic engineering from Brunel University London, London, U.K., in 2013. Dr. Lai earned his D.Phil. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K., in 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Brunel University London. Dr. Lai’s current research interests include power system optimization and electric vehicle systems. Dr. Lai was the Publications Co-Chair for the IEEE International Smart Cities Conferences in 2020 and 2021. He is the Vice-Chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Publications Committee and an Associate Editor for the IET Energy Conversion and Economics publication. He is the Working Group Chair for IEEE P2814 and P3166 Standards, as well as a chairman on the IEEE SMC Intelligent Power and Energy Systems Technical Committee. Dr. Lai is also Associate Vice President, Systems Science and Engineering, of the IEEE’s Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society (IEEE/SMCS).. He was the recipient of the 2022 Meritorious Service Award from the IEEE SMC Society for meritorious and significant service to the organization’s technical activities and standards development. He is an IET Member, Chartered Engineer, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Mohamed Darwish  is a Chartered Engineer and a Reader in Power Electronics and Systems. He has over 35 years of experience in research and teaching in the area of Power Electronics and Power Systems. His research interests include active power filters, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, power quality, and renewable energy systems. Dr. Darwish has supervised more than 30 Ph.D. research students and over 90 M.Sc. students. He has published over 120 journal and conference papers within the area of Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Systems. Dr. Darwish was the Principal Investigator for an EPSRC grant (Programmable Tuned Filters for Retrofit Applications) and for a TCS grant (Power Quality Solutions).
Maysam F. Abbod(Senior Member, IEEE) received his Ph.D. degree in Control Engineering from The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, U.K., in 1992. He is currently a Reader of Electronic Systems with the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering atBrunel University London in Uxbridge, U.K. Dr. Abbod has authored over 50 articles in journals, nine chapters in edited books, and over 50 papers in refereed conferences. His current research interests include intelligent systems for modelling and optimization. Dr. Abbod is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the IET, U.K. He is serving as an Associate Editor for the Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence publication with Elsevier.

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