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Douglas Nelson

Professor
  • Thrust Area Specialty: Energy Engineering and Science
Douglas Nelson
413B Goodwin Hall (0238)
635 Prices Fork Rd.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Research Interests

  • Energy use in vehicles; fundamentals of energy management and control strategies; vehicle systems design using model based design and software/hardware in the loop methods
  • Design of hybrid and electric vehicle powertrains to meet performance and fuel economy goals; construction, testing and validation of vehicle powertrain systems; battery energy storage systems; autonomous vehicle energy storage and propulsion
  • Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions

Plug-in, Hybrid and Electric Propulsion Systems for Light Duty Vehicles

  • Integrate vehicle propulsion and electric energy storage subsystems to demonstrate improved fuel economy and range, idle reduction modes.
  • Evaluate well-to-wheels impact of alternative and bio-based fuels. Define the state-of-the-art, test methods, and technical risks. Design and optimization of hybrid power systems architecture to meet requirements using dynamic models of system components. Drive cycle, gradeability and performance simulation for component sizing and trade-offs. Testing of vehicles, components and systems, thermal limitations, and control strategies.

Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions

Dr. Nelson has advised and mentored HEVT teams through 19 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, achieving First Place overall in 1996, 1998, 2006 and 2011, and placing in the top 3 five more times in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007 and 2010. Students not only design, but also build and test full size vehicles using a detailed vehicle design process to meet vehicle technical specifications while receiving course credit and developing research thesis topics. The students from these teams have gone on to work in the mobility industry, and directly contributed to development of hybrid electric vehicles, including the Ford Escape HEV, the Chevrolet Volt, plus many more. Dr. Nelson also serves as Faculty Chair for the AVTC Faculty Advisor Board where he has contributed to the safety rules and the development of on-road energy use and emissions test methods to emulate laboratory SAE J1711 standard methods for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Note: I cannot discuss research assistant positions with potential graduate students unless you have applied to and been accepted into our graduate program.

See Dr. Nelson's publications and research on ResearchGate.

1986-Present, Assistant/Associate/Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

  • 2013-2014 – Department of Energy Applied Automotive Engineering Fellowship
  • 2013 – Outstanding Long-Term Faculty Advisor Award, National Science Foundation, EcoCAR 2
  • 2011 – Elected Fellow, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International
  • 2009 – Outstanding Long-Term Faculty Advisor Award, National Science Foundation, EcoCAR
  • 2005 – Outstanding Long-term Faculty Advisor Award, National Science Foundation, Challenge X
  • 1998 – FutureCar Faculty Advisor’s Award, National Science Foundation
  • 1997 – Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Virginia Tech College of Engineering
  • 1996 – Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, SAE International
  • Ph.D. - Mechanical Engineering, Arizona State University, 1986
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1979
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1978