Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Ruoyu Hou
Ruoyu has always had an interest in the way things work. As a child, he liked playing with toy cars, and this developed into his current passion for the real thing. He has a great interest in electric vehicles and strongly believes that they are the future of automobiles. Since his days in college, Ruoyu has participated in quite a few experiments relevant to electric circuits. The most exciting moment for him was when he saw that the experimental results were exactly what he had expected to see. At that moment, Ruoyu saw the charm and magic of electric circuits. This convinced him that electrical engineering was the career path he wanted to follow.
In 2010, Ruoyu was accepted into the master’s program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and majored in power electronics and motor control. During his first year of study, he had the opportunity to join the Electric Drives and Energy Conversion Lab at IIT. This break led to him putting all of his theoretical knowledge into practice in the real world. For his master’s thesis, Ruoyu designed and implemented a novel power-assisted wheelchair. Collaborating with the IIT Institute of Design, Ruoyu transformed a conventional, manual wheelchair into an electric wheelchair. Although it might sound simple, it actually included a lot of work on both the electrical and mechanical sides. As Ruoyu points out, “every screw and every drill hole needed to be measured and tested.” The project taught him how to balance and solve both practical and theoretical problems. He not only developed his time-management, troubleshooting, and teamwork skills, but also started to understand how arduous and time consuming it can be to go from one simple idea to a real, fully functional prototype. After graduating from IIT, Ruoyu worked with GE Transportation as an electric machine design engineer in Erie, PA. His main responsibilities included design analysis, performance analysis, and test data analysis of synchronous machines for locomotive and off-highway vehicle alternators/generators. He was impressed by GE’s quality and reliability requirements. He learned that, for industrial products to succeed, they should not only have an innovative idea that leads to higher performance and lower cost, but it should also be durable and reliable.
Now in Hamilton, Ruoyu is enjoying his time living in Canada near another Great Lake. His present research is focused on power electronics in hybrid electric vehicles. In electrified powertrains, there are plenty of vehicular electrical subsystems to start the engine and ensure the operation of lighting, air conditioning, radio, and various electronic devices. Ruoyu believes that the reliability and efficiency of power converters are so important since they power all microprocessors in the vehicle, and thus, keep the vehicle awake. His research with the McMaster Institute for Automotive Research and Technology (MacAUTO) team has brought him closer and closer to his goals, and he hopes to one day convert his Honda CRV into a hybrid electric vehicle, all by himself.