UA-76843172-1

It’s Electric!: VW van is revamped

Albert Unrath and students from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers collaborated to convert the van from using gas fuel to electric fuel use. (Aaron Jaffe/Snapper)

Aaron Jaffe
Advertising Manager

With the ever-present initiatives to make the world and local communities more environmentally friendly, Albert (Al) Unrath, Instructional Designer for MU’s Department of Information Technology, and students from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) have joined together to design Millersville’s first eco-friendly and fully electric vehicle.

Unrath and the SME have recently purchased and will be rebuilding an old gas-powered Volkswagen bus into a fully electric vehicle. The original engine will be replaced with an alternating current (AC) motor, arguably better than a DC motor as Unrath explained, and rechargeable batteries that can last 5-10 years each.

The bus was considered more financially feasible than golf carts and will be more ecologically friendly to use. (Aaron Jaffe/Snapper)
The bus was considered more financially feasible than golf carts and will be more ecologically friendly to use. (Aaron Jaffe/Snapper)

Millersville University’s President, John Anderson, and VP of Finance, Roger Bruszewski, have fully financially backed the $20,000 project. The project also fits in with the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that Dr. Anderson signed in 2013 to make MU a ‘climate-neutral campus.’

The bus is currently being worked on in the garage beside the McComsey parking lot on E. Fredrick Street. The idea for the project came to Unrath when the Director of Purchasing and Campus Services, David Errickson, was looking for a way to transport people around campus for tours if they were not physically able. The original plan to purchase golf carts was not feasible due to the inability to license them to drive on municipal roadways. Unrath explained that the bus allowed for easy transportation around campus that was eco-friendly and fun to drive in.

Robert McNerney, a student working on the project, explained that the original bus with the gas-powered engine could only last for about 100,000-200,000 miles. With the new electric AC motor there did not seem to be a limit on how far it could go, factoring for regular maintenance like brakes, wheels, etc…. The new electric motor is also projected to allow the bus to go about 30 mph faster than it could with the gas-powered engine. Unrath’s plan is to start with the VW bus project and expand it to be the “MU Inventors’ Garage,” a place where any student, faculty and/or staff member can enrich learning through invention, design, development and application.

Albert Unrath and students from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers collaborated to convert the van from using gas fuel to electric fuel use. (Aaron Jaffe/Snapper)
Albert Unrath and students from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers collaborated to convert the van from using gas fuel to electric fuel use. (Aaron Jaffe/Snapper)

The new Electric VW bus is planned to be finished by the end of the Fall 2015 semester and will be shown at the Made In Millersville conference on April 21, 2016.

To find out more about the project, go to http://bit.ly/1jYy126.