MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) is now incorporating the newest drive technology available into five test benches that support the electrical engineering curriculum and studies of undergraduate and graduate students attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The new ABB industrial drives, ACS800 units, were just delivered to WEMPEC, and students in the summer graduate program began incorporating them into new test benches immediately for use in the fall with returning students. Every bench will be outfitted to power a total of seven motors.

WEMPEC, formed in 1981, is said to be the world's largest university research center dedicated to the study of electrical machines and power electronics. "Motor drives are a critical part of the research, curriculum, and work," according to Dr. Thomas Lipo, professor and co-director of WEMPEC. "So providing students access to the most current technology available provides them the tools that are at work in the marketplace now."

"It's a two-way exchange that benefits manufacturers like ABB, as well as this lab and the university," said Kalyan Gokhale, in presenting the drives. Gokhale, who is the head of research and development at ABB Inc., Low Voltage Drives, New Berlin, Wis., noted that WEMPEC members receive research reports and "have access to faculty employees to discuss technical issues and cutting-edge research developments." Graduate students also work as summer interns at WEMPEC member companies, he said.

"We are delighted to receive the technology, and the timing segues right into the fall semester," said Dr. Bob Lorenz, professor and co-director of WEMPEC with Lipo. "We know that the ability to offer students both a deep immersion in theory and lab work prepares them for electrical engineering jobs at companies like ABB," he said. "So the importance of having little-to-no distance between this school and the workplace is paramount in importance."

Participation in summer programs and national energy contests are additional ways WEMPEC introduces students to their peers around the country. "Our objective is to familiarize them with how learning here can translate directly to work and applications that rely on a thorough understanding of power electronics and how energy conversion works," Lorenz said. "They will work on the energy future."

For more information on the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium, visit For more information on ABB drives, visit

Publication date: 08/08/2005