Ali Emadi has set up a platform that is preparing the next paradigm shift in electrical power
“If Alexander Graham Bell came back and looked at today’s information technology, he wouldn’t understand a thing because there have been so many paradigm shifts since his time,” says Ali Emadi, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain. “But,” he adds, “Henry Ford and Thomas Edison? They’d recognize today’s internal combustion engines and electric power industry, and that’s not how it should be. We need to bring about a comparable paradigm shift in these areas, and that’s the focus–the goal–of our CERC program at McMaster.”
To say Emadi is passionate about his work and the program’s goal would be a serious understatement. He’s convinced McMaster is the place to help make this shift happen, and his industry partners and students–both current and former–couldn’t agree more.
Since coming to McMaster in 2011, Emadi has engineered a dynamic and robust university program that’s second to none in the country and the world. Based out of the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), it is one of the world’s leading academic research programs in electric transportation. Its focus is on pioneering sustainable energy-efficient solutions—from advanced power electronic converters and electric motor drives, to electric, hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
MARC, a state-of-the-art centrepiece at the McMaster Innovation Park, is an 80,000 square foot facility, housing industry-scale labs and advanced equipment. Here, Emadi has built a team that is the envy of many, making it the go-to place for the automotive industry.
There are no silos in the program. Software developers, mechanical engineers and materials experts all work together alongside leading automotive industry partners who are eager to develop ideas and technologies. They’re also anxious to attract Emadi’s students to their companies.
Take the Leadership in Automotive Powertrain (LEAP) project, for example, sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Automotive Partnership Canada, an initiative of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Led by Emadi, it boasts more than 100 researchers working closely with engineers and managers at FCA to build the next generation of more affordable and environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles.
Joe Tolkacz, FCA’s senior manager, Hybrid Controls and Calibration, says that plug-ins and hybrids are “game-changers,” as we look at ways to move away from a fossil fuel economy. He also says that their partnership with McMaster is helping to build these vehicles and change the future. And while they talked about “five years out and next generation,” FCA is already seeing benefits from LEAP that are in production today.