Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Hybrid Powertrain Program: Electric, Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research

Brock Howey

Ph.D. Student

Short Biography

20140326_0303Brock Howey received his B.Tech degree in automotive and vehicle technology from McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada) in 2014. During this program he held various co-op positions relating to sustainable energy production and vehicle engineering. Brock is currently a Ph.D candidate as part of the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in hybrid powertrain program, at the McMaster Automotive Resource Center (MARC). He is strongly passionate about vehicles and a firm believer in electric vehicles. His research is currently directed to switched reluctance motor design for vehicle applications.

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Brock has always been fascinated with how things work. At a young age, he used to disassemble anything electrical or mechanical that he could get his hands on. As he grew older, he became increasingly passionate about computers; as the complexity and intricacy of them had sparked his interest from a young age. In high school he learned to program and design circuits, and he enjoyed this immensely. He joined the engineering club and was the manager for the school robotics team which went on to place in the First Robotics World Finals.

When his family had to move, his parents bought him his first car so he could commute and finish off his last high school year without switching schools. As he had an older car and had to do the service himself, he became familiar with engines quickly, and started to become more interested in vehicles. This was compounded by the joy and freedom of driving experienced at this age. Brock had always wanted to go to university for computer engineering, but now he had a dilemma. He chose the Automotive and Vehicle Technology (B.Tech) program at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada) as it combined his passions in electrical design, programming, and vehicle design.

Throughout university, Brock was involved with the McMaster Solar Car Project and was also a part of the McMaster Formula SAE team for a period of time. As a part of the electrical and mechanical subteams for the Solar Car Project, Brock learned more about electronics, and the mechanical requirements for such a lightweight and efficient vehicle. In his first co-op, he was hired by the project, and designed the full braking system, wheels, and the front suspension system. He later went on to be the mechanical subteam manager. His second co-op was spent with PCL Construction, designing solar farms. This was a very beneficial experience that gave insight on how design was carried out in industry.

The design and use of programmatical tools helped him automate his tasks, solve complex problems, and work more effectively. Since the beginning of his undergrad program, Brock enjoyed reading into different vehicle technologies, and was attracted by electric vehicles. The high efficiency, excellent torque output characteristics, minimal maintenance, and benefit to the environment sold him on the technology; to this day he believes that these vehicles are the future for personal transportation. Upon the completion of his B.Tech degree, Brock wanted to continue his education, and found a perfect fit at the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in hybrid powertrain program (McMaster University). His focus is on electric vehicle powertrain design; specifically switched reluctance motor design. The excellent environment allows him to explore his interests in mechanical/electrical design, and programming, while being at the forefront of electric vehicle research.

Brock is an avid vehicle and computer enthusiast. He builds his own computers and works on his cars during his spare time. As an individual concerned about the environment, he hopes his research can help improve the world. He enjoys the outdoors and during the summer he goes to provincial parks; portaging and camping in the wilderness. His huge passion for vehicles does not stop at his research. Brock often attends track days at the local road course tracks, and he modifies and builds his own project car; hoping to someday make it electric. Brock also enjoys astronomy, playing his violin, and practising marksmanship at the local ranges.

In five years, after finishing his Ph.D program, Brock hopes to find an industrial position in electric vehicle powertrain design, where he can put his knowledge and experience into practical designs.