Engineering Students Help Improve Electric Car Technology

July 28, 2008 - News Release

A team of University of Guelph students has had a helping hand in kick-starting the latest technology in electric car motors.

As part of their fourth-year engineering design course, a group of students approached STT Technologies Inc., a division of Magna Powertrain Inc. that specializes in automotive technology, and asked the company if it had a project they could work on.

The Toronto firm agreed to allow the four students, Dusan Mandic, Angilito Galang, Philip Chin and Alexander Fuerth, to work on one of Magna's latest designs for an electric oil pump.

Their assignment was to study the electromagnetic compound of the motor and find ways to optimize performance.

"This is unique because the students had the opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge technology and work on a real problem," said engineering professor Hussein Abdullah, the project supervisor. "This is a one-of-a-kind design that will influence the future of car engine performance. Our students were lucky to be able to work on this project."

The design is unique because it's a single unit that powers both the motor and the oil pump, creating a more powerful, efficient and reliable engine, said Mandic, who also completed a co-op work term with the company before working on this project.

"The industry is heading towards this type of electric oil pump technology, so it was very exciting to have a chance to work on the design," he said.

Before they began the project, the students had to be trained to use a high-tech computer simulation of the motor. They conducted their tests using this specialized computer program rather than an actual motor. They were then given a model of the actual motor to take apart so they could understand exactly how it worked.

"We had to figure out the geometric configurations, dimensions and materials of the motor so we could understand the design and come up with solutions that would apply to the benchmark model," said Mandic.

Using the computer simulation, the students then determined ways the motor could be designed to run more efficiently. At the end of the project, they submitted a list of recommendations to the company.

"It was definitely a good experience because we had a chance to be exposed to the types of situations we might face in a real job."

Gill Hadar, STT Technologies Inc. design and development engineering manager, said despite the challenging project objectives, the students did a professional job.

"In a couple of months, the students have managed to learn how to operate a state-of-the-art electrical finite element analysis tool and write an extensive detailed report," said Hadar. "They also had to present their findings in front of a group of engineers, technicians and management. These types of collaborations between universities and the manufacturing sector have great potential for new innovative systems, which will play a big role in the future of the Canadian automotive industry."

Hussein Abdullah
School of Engineering
519-824-4120, Ext. 53346

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1