August 2nd, 2013 @ 4:00 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
New discoveries are made on our campus every day. Thanks to partnerships between government and public research universities like UC Davis, much of this innovation has driven the American economy and led to technological advances that have improved the lives of millions.
Innovations by people like mechanical and aeronautical engineering professor Andy Frank, who has come to be known as the “father of the plug-in hybrid,” could not have been possible without support from the U.S. Department of Energy as well as leading companies in the auto industry.
Andy has been working on developing fuel-efficient vehicles for more than 30 years. He was in high school, building hot rods, when he began exploring ways to get better performance and better fuel economy. He spent a 10-years working in aerospace engineering, but returned to his automotive roots in 1972 when he developed what may have been the first plug-in hybrid car.
During his tenure at UC Davis, Andy has worked with teams of students who have designed and built a series of award-winning vehicles for the Futurecar, Futuretruck and ChallengeX competitions.
In 2006, he established a company, Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI), to refine his inventions for market. In 2007, the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis established a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Research Center to conduct the first consumer studies of plug-ins.
And in 2010, Andy became one of the very first people to take delivery of a mass-produced plug-in hybrid: the Chevrolet Volt. Some of his former students had worked on the Volt’s design.
Investing in innovation is vital for America’s future. This week, I joined my higher education colleagues across the country to send an open letter to our leaders in Washington urging them to close the innovation deficit. Such investments, especially in tough times, are essential to drive the innovation, economic growth and job creation needed to keep America strong.