Project Condor is an excellent example of how collaboration between private and public sectors can help mitigate climate change, while educating students for positive contributions to our future. My thanks to Muhammed Shah and Mojgan Momeni for the photos and other assistance in producing this article.
World Innovations Network
Condor was developed within the framework of World Innovations Network (WIN). WIN provides the glue for projects that engage community college students, to work on socially beneficial projects. For example, through the United Community Alliance, West Valley College students and faculty, local government officials, entrepreneurs, high-tech leaders, and the venture capital community have worked on COVID-19, student homelessness, and clean water.
Interdisciplinary, multi-organizational, and cross-role collaboration
The project was started by Muhammed Majid Shah, Tim Hyde, and Akilan Babu through an internship project organized and mentored by WIN in the spring of 2022. Silicon Valley Clean Energy helped sponsor the project through their education fund.
The students partner with mentors from higher education and industry. They gain practical experience related to their studies, while the industry partners contribute to education and positive social change. Along the way, students find jobs and companies find experienced employees. And the public sees solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems.
Like other WIN projects, Condor represents a true interdisciplinary collaboration across organizations. It’s since grown to a team of 12-15 students from Mission College, many with a business focus, and West Valley College, many with an engineering focus. It’s highly interdisciplinary with students from science, math, engineering, business, and marketing.
Project Condor aims to rejuvenate older hybrid vehicles by replacing dying batteries with newer technology. The public can have a cheaper and more reliable alternative to buying new batteries. This reduces both maintenance costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s noteworthy that 31% of hybrids’ environmental costs are due to battery production. End-of-life processes compound that. Battery renewal and recycling can have a significant benefit.
One of the key inspirations in our project has been the work done by John Sullivan, who designed the battery management system that we’re currently studying. Our goal with Project Condor goes beyond just providing a technological solution–we strive to provide student participants with a resume-building experience through hands-on work on a real-world project.
In pursuit of this goal, we’re eager to demonstrate the potential of this new hybrid technology by using a Honda Insight as our initial platform. Our team is focused on collecting and analyzing data from both before and after the battery conversion. Once we’re able to effectively prove the feasibility and benefits of this technology, we plan to implement a similar system for the most ubiquitous player in the hybrid market––the Toyota Prius.
We’ve learned that design and business is an iterative process and the importance of having an interdisciplinary approach.Muhammed Shah, via email