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Canada Recruits Ali Emadi, US Power Electronics Expert and Conversion Firm Founder
May 18, 2010 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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We're in the middle of a series of races among carmakers to bring plug-in cars to market. At the same time, the expert inventors, engineers and teachers needed by this rapidly growing plug-in vehicle industry are in short supply. One of those giants, Ali Emadi, has just been hired away from of the Illinois Institute of Technology by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto). Emadi will oversee the vast expansion of a program whose importance to the university and to a nation 22% of whose exports are automotive-related was underscored when the announcement came from two top Canadian Ministers. Dr. Emadi will establish a new prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chair (the only one of 19 announced nationally, each funded with CA$10M, to focus on automotive technology). He will also direct a CA$100M research institute. Read more below, including our speculation about the University's interest in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies Inc., the startup company Emadi founded to convert large gas-guzzlers to plug-in hybrids.

While we're sorry to see Emadi leave Illinois, we're both pleased and intrigued that McMaster seems to like the idea of its new hire having built a promising company while at IIT! At­press-release/­New-Government-of-Canada-Investment-Attracts-Top-Minds-to-Canadian-Universities-1261713.htm, President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Peter George went out of his way to note that "Dr. Emadi's experience in spinning off start-up companies from the university environment will be an invaluable resource to the community."

Emadi founded , which in 2007 converted a Ford F-150 pickup truck into a 30-mile range PHEV as a proof-of-concept to "fix" pickups trucks, vans and buses. The company projects that conversions in high volume could sell for under $15,000, which if paired with federal tax credits commensurate with the vehicles' petroleum reduction and CO2 benefits, has an attractive business model. The startup has not yet gone beyond seed-level funding and continues to explore strategic partnerships. And it is not yet clear if HEVT will transplant to Canada along with Emadi (when he leaves in summer 2011), remain in Chicago, or relocate elsewhere in the Midwest Auto Belt or California.

Those unfamiliar with Ali Emadi will appreciate his importance from the official announcement below. We also note that he has often been described as "The Andy Frank of Power Electronics." That's a comparison to the professor generally acknowledged as the father of the modern PHEV, who in the past two decades tirelessly proselytized for PHEVs, retrofit multiple vehicles to PHEV at the University of California at Davis, and himself co-founded to commercialize his intellectual property for both new vehicles and internal combustion retrofits. See a photo of Emadi and Frank with their prototypes, and fans Andy Grove and Felix Kramer, at­photos.html . (Full disclosure: CalCars Founder Felix Kramer is an advisor to both HEVT and EDI, as discussed at­calcars-news/­976.html .)


RESEARCH SUMMARY: The harmful effects that vehicle emissions have on both human health and the environment are leading to major shifts in the global automotive industry. Engineers around the world are competing to build the new, innovative models that will be the next generation of cost-effective, energy-efficient cars.

At the forefront of this competition are plug-in hybrid vehicles. Responding to the needs of a growing population of energy-conscious consumers, plug-in hybrid vehicles are expected to become one of the main forms of transportation in Canada and across the globe by 2030.

One of the keys to engineering the next generation of hybrid electric cars will be improving their powertrain, which transmits propulsion power. Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain Dr. Ali Emadi is at the leading edge of new developments in transportation electrification, including advanced electrified powertrains; the vehicle-to-grid interface of plug-in vehicles with Smart Grid technology; powertrain components; hybrid battery/super-capacitor energy storage systems; and adaptive vehicle control and power management systems.

Emadi's research provides solutions for industry and environmental policy-makers alike: it meets the current demands of the automotive sector and will further the growth of Canada's economy, while maintaining a strong position for the future of Canada's green technology industry.

A rising star in his field, Emadi's work has already had exceptional impact. His experience and knowledge aligns well with the existing engineering expertise at McMaster University, where hybrid automobile research and development is already heavily supported.

BIOGRAPHY: Emadi is internationally recognized for his in-depth research on hybrid electric vehicle powertrains and electric drives. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering, with a specialization in power electronics and motor drives, from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He received a bachelor's and master's degree in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran.

An extremely active researcher, Emadi has made significant contributions toward the development of hybrid powertrains, power converters, hybrid energy storage systems and powertrain adaptive controls. He has authored over 250 publications and conference papers, as well as several books, including co-authoring Vehicular Electric Power Systems: Land, Sea, Air, and Space Vehicles; and Modern Electric, Hybrid Electric, and Fuel Cell Vehicles: Fundamentals, Theory, and Design .

THE MAY 17, 2010 PRESS RELEASE from­news/­feature.html and­story.cfm?id=6732 Top U.S. Auto Hybrid Researcher Moving to McMaster / Ali Emadi named Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain

Hybrid vehicle development in Canada has received a huge jolt of propulsion.

Professor Ali Emadi, a leading U.S. developer of electric powertrain technology, has been appointed Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain and will relocate to McMaster University. The appointment will see the construction of a new 15,000 square-foot hybrid vehicle research facility at McMaster Innovation Park.

The appointment was announced today by federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement and federal Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear. It is one of 19 new Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) appointments at 13 universities. Each appointment receives up to $10 million in federal funding over seven years.

"Canada has just been elevated another notch as a global leader in developing hybrid vehicle technology," said Peter George, president and vice-chancellor, McMaster University. "The appointment reinforces McMaster's leadership in automotive research and places us at the forefront of hybrid vehicle research in this country."

"The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting leading-edge research and world-class researchers," said The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. "The CERC program confirms Canada's standing as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. This program supports our government's commitment to ensuring Canada's future economic growth by investing in innovation and research capacity in priority areas."

Prof. Emadi is currently the Harris Perlstein Endowed Chair Professor of Engineering and director of the Electric Power and Power Electronics Centre at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He is also the founder and president of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc., a spin-off company of the Institute.

"The government's commitment to research through the CERC program and McMaster's vision for leadership in sustainable automotive research were too strong to resist," said Prof. Emadi. "I am looking forward to joining the strong network of automotive researchers in Canada and helping to advance the development of hybrid vehicles."

Prof. Emadi's hybrid vehicle research facility will be part of a new 50,000 square-foot automotive resource centre being planned for McMaster Innovation Park. The Centre is to be located within the current Careport building and bring together private and public sector organizations to develop new technologies such as hybrid engines, batteries and lightweight materials.

"Dr. Emadi's appointment adds to the critical mass of expertise being assembled at McMaster for developing the next generation of lightweight, energy-efficient vehicles," said Mo Elbestawi, vice president research and international affairs. "He will help attract more like-minded researchers and entrepreneurs, and his experience in spinning off start-up companies will be invaluable to the community."

Prof. Emadi's research encompasses the development of advanced electric drive vehicles, power electronics and motor drives, vehicle-to-grid interface of plug-in vehicles with Smart Grid, hybrid battery/super-capacitor energy storage systems, and adaptive vehicle control and power management systems.

"One of Dr. Emadi's strengths is systems integration," said David Wilkinson, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. "He has the insight and the knowledge of advanced technologies to shift hybrid vehicle research and development to another level in Canada. He can move research closer to implementation."

Prof. Emadi is co-author of what is considered the world's leading introductory textbook on hybrid vehicles: Modern Electric, Hybrid Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicles: Fundamentals, Theory and Design. The second edition was published in September 2009.

As part of his appointment, Prof. Emadi will also become director of the McMaster Institute for Automotive Research and Technology, known as MacAUTO, the coordinating body for automotive research and education at the university. It encompasses some 75 researchers in engineering, science, business and other faculties involved in initiatives valued at over $100 million in programs and infrastructure.

"His appointment is part of a strategy to introduce new programs and train engineers in the area of power engineering and electronics, control systems, Smart Grid, and related technologies," said Wilkinson. "McMaster will have the greatest concentration of powertrain research anywhere in the country."

The CERC program was announced in Budget 2008 as part of the federal government's Science and Technology Strategy to help build expertise in strategic areas. Research conducted by the chairholders will focus on the areas of environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies. The CERC program is administered jointly by Canada's three research granting agencies: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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