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169 North American Universities Collaborating to Promote Electric Energy Systems Education

Dr. Ned Mohan’s lab at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

May 31, 2013: 169 North American universities are coming together to realize a common goal that they all share – to develop a first-rate educational program for electric energy systems. With the help of funding from various organizations including NSF, ONR (Office of Naval Research), NASA and EPRI, the universities have established a consortium to collectively evolve and promote a curriculum for sustainable power.

Operating under the Consortium of Universities for Sustainable Power (CUSP), the universities are working to create a community of teaching / learning scholars based on a curriculum that was developed by the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. The curriculum, referred to as the CUSP™ Curriculum, consists of three undergraduate courses and five graduate courses in: Power Electronics, Electric Drives, Power Systems, Power System Protection and Electric-Machine Design.
Electric Drives Lab Serving as Model for Other Universities to Replicate
A key component of the CUSP Curriculum is the establishment of a state-of-the-art lab where university students can utilize tools, used in real-world industries, to develop electric drives. Such a lab has been set up at the University of Minnesota (see photo below). This lab is serving as a model for other universities to adopt. The lab features dSPACE DS1104 controller boards to help students learn concepts in making electric drives an enabling technology for various applications such as flexible production systems, energy conservation, renewable energy, and transportation, etc.
More information about the lab can be found at


Diagram of a DC motor speed-control using a dSPACE DS1104 R&D Controller Card

How the dSPACE DS1104 R&D Controller Board and CP 1104 I/O Board Are Being Used in the Electric Drives Lab
The CP1104 I/O board is an input-output interface board between the
Power Electronics Drive Board and DS1104 controller board. The CP1104 I/O board helps monitor the inputs (i.e. motor current, speed, voltage, etc.) in each discrete-time step. Based on the inputs and the variables that need to be controlled (i.e. motor speed or torque), the DS1104 R&D board takes the programmed action to generate the controlled digital signals. This type of action is governed by what is programmed in the board with the help of a MATLAB®/Simulink® real-time interface.
With the use of ControlDesk by dSPACE, students can monitor all inputs to the CP1104 I/O board in real time and control any variables from the MATLAB/Simulink model (i.e. speed, torque, voltage).
The DS1104 board provides a quick implementation time and ease of use, enabling students to focus on the basic concepts of electric machines and drives. An example setup is shown above.


Current CUSP members also participating in the EcoCAR 2 collegiate engineering competition include:
  • Colorado State University
  • Penn State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • University of Tennessee
  • North Carolina State University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Ohio State University
  • Wayne State University
For more information on the consortium please visit