Gift endows new professorship in electric mobility

Driftmier Engineering Center

This story was originally posted to UGA Today on April 14, 2022.

A $250,000 gift from Georgia Power Company will establish a new professorship at the University of Georgia to advance research, teaching and public service in the rapidly accelerating field of electric mobility.

“We are grateful to Georgia Power Company for helping us build the University of Georgia’s capacity in this important field for our state,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to the new opportunities for collaboration among faculty, students and industry that this endowed professorship will spark.”

Georgia Power’s gift will be matched by the UGA Foundation to create the Georgia Power Electric Mobility Distinguished Professorship in the College of Engineering. The endowed position will allow UGA to attract and retain a world-class faculty member whose work focuses on e-mobility and associated fields.

“Georgia Power and the UGA Foundation have been significant partners of our college over the years, and we are grateful for their support of our students and faculty,” said Donald Leo, dean of the College of Engineering. “This new endowed professorship is another example of our shared vision of exploring new frontiers in technology and engineering that will benefit our state and its citizens.”

The field of electric mobility has experienced exponential growth in recent years, and the state of Georgia is poised to become a hub for the electric vehicle and battery markets. Late last year, electric truck maker Rivian announced it would build a $5 billion factory in Georgia that the company says will eventually employ more than 7,500 workers and will be capable of producing up to 400,000 vehicles per year. In addition, SK Innovation is building two plants in Jackson County to produce batteries for electric vehicles. The company says its factories will eventually employ 2,600 workers.

Electric mobility research also involves advanced charging systems and smart traffic infrastructure. Connected transportation systems are another key component of e-mobility. The technology will enable cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles to “talk” to each other and continuously share important safety and mobility information.

“Georgia Power is excited to partner with the UGA Foundation to drive economic and workforce development in Georgia,” said Northeast Georgia Regional Director of Georgia Power Jeff Petrea. “The opportunity to work with the College of Engineering to support Georgia’s growing electric mobility industry further solidifies Georgia as the top state for business.”

The new professorship will allow UGA to expand e-mobility research already happening in the College of Engineering, including work to improve the control and coordination of autonomous vehicles and work to identify cybersecurity weaknesses that could threaten the safety and efficiency of electric vehicles. In addition, UGA recently established a campus-wide Electric Mobility Initiative that will provide seed funding for new projects and bring together thought leaders to discuss innovative approaches to electric mobility across Georgia and the region.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the creation of the new professorship during its April 13 meeting. The College of Engineering anticipates filling the Georgia Power Electric Mobility Distinguished Professorship in the coming academic year.