Developing Energy Alternatives

  • Harold Schock
  • Automotive Research Experiment Station (ARES)
  • College of Engineering

With gas prices rising daily, Dr. Harold Schock, director of the ARES, lately has found more people interested in what he has to say about the intricacies of internal combustion engines. His research focuses on sophisticated diagnostics to quantify flow and combustion processes. The goal is to improve efficiency, for example, by figuring out how to collect wasted heat energy from the exhaust and convert it to electricity that can be used by a hybrid vehicle.

Schock has predicted that "we have at least 30 more years of pumping gas in store for us. For the foreseeable future, in terms of the environment and the economy, fossil fuels will be tremendously important."

Whether the Earth's fast-dwindling supply of hydrocarbons can outlast Schock's 30-year prediction remains to be seen. For the present, Schock's money is still on the internal combustion engine, and continuing to tinker with its parameters. "There's probably more computational power in an automobile today than there was in the rocket that took the men to the moon," he said. "You can buy a car for $20,000 that's a fantastic piece of equipment. It has better fuel economy than cars did 20 years ago by a factor of at least two, with equivalent power and better safety. For general transportation purposes, it's still a wonderful means of getting around."

New Energy & Automotive Research Laboratories Under Construction

A $10 million facility that will focus on research to improve automobile engine efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and seek alternative energy sources is under construction at Michigan State University. In the new laboratories, researchers will identify ways to realize greater fuel efficiency and develop new biobased fuels. Nearly half of the financial support for the Energy & Automotive Research Laboratories was provided by individual and corporate donors, including Ford, General Motors, and Consumers Energy. The new facility is an expansion of an existing research center, MSU's Automotive Research Experiment Station (ARES).

"Of the 83,000 research and development jobs in the U.S. auto industry, nearly 60,000 are in Michigan. This new facility will help to keep it that way." — Eann Patterson, Chair Department of Mechanical Engineering

The Outreach and Engagement Measurement Instrument (OEMI)

Michigan State University has developed an online survey to collect data about outreach and engagement activities undertaken by MSU faculty and academic staff across their teaching, research, and service. One of the first surveys of its kind, the Outreach and Engagement Measurement Instrument (OEMI) has generated interest from universities across the United States and internationally.

Each year respondents are asked to report on scholarly activities conducted for the direct benefit of audiences external to the University. Among other things, they indicate the issues that their work addresses; the geographic location of the work; external funding generated, both for the University and its partners; and impacts on both the community and their own scholarship.

In 2005, the University utilized data collected through the OEMI both for its own ten-year re-accreditation self-study and for its contribution to a pilot study of a new engagement classification undertaken by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. MSU was one of only 14 institutions invited to participate.

The OEMI is already being adapted for national use. It has been pilot tested by other institutions, and is being offered to other universities as an institutional research tool of the National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement (NCSUE), which is located at MSU. In coming years, the NCSUE plans to develop the first national warehouse of outreach and engagement data.

Contact Burton A. Bargerstock, (517) 353-8977 or, for more information.

  • Written by Linda Chapel Jackson, University Outreach and Engagement

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