eMobility Conference Addresses the Future of Transportation

Iryna Zenyuk, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, sits down with guest panelists for a fireside chat at UCI’s first eMobility event. Pictured with Zenyuk, right, are, from left, Brian Sisk, Harrison Lu and Aratz Pinter.

June 29, 2022 – The Samueli School of Engineering and Engineering Student Council (ESC) hosted students and alumni at “An Afternoon with Technology Innovators,” May 10, at the Cove, UCI Beall Applied Innovation. The event brought together electromobility leaders from Lime, Rivian and Super73 and UCI corporate partner Motive Energy for an industry outlook discussion, product showcase and networking mixer.

Samueli School Dean Magnus Egerstedt opened the event by welcoming guests to what he called an experiment—an effort to build connections between the school of engineering and innovative companies by putting them all in the same room together. 

“The technologies we're going to be discussing today are really interesting technologies in their own right, but they have implications for how we're going to live our lives in the future and what that future is going to even look like,” said Egerstedt. 

A highlight of the event was a fireside chat moderated by Iryna Zenyuk, UCI associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The guest panel featured Brian Sisk, senior director of Energy Storage Systems at Rivian; Aratz Pinter, vice president of engineering at Super 73; and Harrison Lu, product development lead at Lime. 

“Electrification will cause a major shift in the entire automotive supply chain,” said Zenyuk. “As population GDP continues to grow, and if we continue relying on internal combustion engines, we'll see more emissions, more pollution and more congestion on the road. To counter this, the mobility industry is unleashing a dazzling array of innovative technologies for urban roads.” 

Zenyuk asked panelists about the challenges of charging availability and consumers demanding instant charging.

Guests demo Super 73’s electric motorcycles and bicycles during the product showcase portion of the event.

Lime’s solution to the charging issue is their new concept of removable batteries. Conceived in 2019, the idea led to an experimental pilot conducted in Israel called “swap stations.” The distributed charging stations charge removable batteries so anyone can switch out an empty battery from their vehicle for a fully-charged one, cutting out wait times entirely. 

On the topic of issues facing eMobility, Pinter brought up sustainability and how Super73 is trying to not only recycle but also repurpose end-of-life batteries with their current project in Europe. “We have hundreds of batteries lying around. What do we do with all this? We need the industry behind these products to recycle those materials and turn them back into something we can use again.” 

When asked what skills UCI students need to enter the eMobility sector, Sisk recommended that students be multiskilled, specifically emphasizing the importance of adding data science to their engineering focus. 

“Data allows us to develop faster, push changes, solve problems, monitor problems and understand our products in ways that would have never been possible 10 years ago. Data is going to absolutely change the game and everybody's going to be a data scientist, I think,” said Sisk. 

Students speak with human resources representatives from Lime, Rivian and Super 73 about entering and succeeding in the eMobility industry.

Lu, who is also a UCI mechanical engineering alumnus, offered advice he learned from a previous employer. “I'll borrow a term from my CTO called ‘high-level thinking.’ It means you can think at a high level and see the big picture, but you can also get down into the details and think about technical things. We really value that in everybody.”

The event provided guests with the opportunity to network during a mixer with representatives from each company. Guests also enjoyed a product showcase of Lime’s swappable battery technology, as well as the chance to demo some of the company’s products outside. 

According to student survey feedback, attendees found the insight from panelists valuable. One student commented they “liked the sincere discussion and got some inspiring opinions.” 

– Yuika Yoshida