James Madison University
PHOTO:Robert J. Prins

Robert J. Prins, Ph. D.

Associate Professor

  • Office: HHS 3226
  • Phone: 540-568-8869
  • Email: prinsrj@jmu.edu
  • Mailing Address:
    MSC 4113
    801 Carrier Drive
    Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807

Dr. Prins is participating in the development of freshman engineering coursework and activities as well as student projects for the Design sequence.  He serves as Associate Director of JMU’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Laboratory and co-advisor of the JMU student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Education

  • PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2005
  • MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1996
  • BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1993

Experience

Prior to coming to JMU, Dr. Prins was a faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Virginia State University. 

Specializations/Research Interests

Dr. Prins is an Associate Director of the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Laboratory at JMU. The AFVL is a facility in which students work on projects that have the common goal of reducing vehicle emissions. Dr. Prins is currently working with two student teams on projects related to improving electric vehicle range; one team is constructing an energy harvesting shock absorber the other team is investigating mechanical approaches to regenerative braking. Dr. Prins is also working with students on electric vehicle construction projects. This year, students are building electric-assisted bicycles to develop an electric-assisted bicycle design competition for high school students. A project to convert a small displacement motorcycle to electric power is being planned for next year.

Dr. Prins is collaborating with Dr. Teel, a soil scientist in the College of Integrated Science and Technology, and a team of students to investigate local production and application of biochar. Biochar is charred biomass that is used as a soil amendment to reduce requirements for other nutrient additives. Production and application of biochar is a means to sequester atmospheric carbon in the soil. This project currently includes an investigation into production techniques, small scale biochar production runs to determine optimum production parameters, and fabrication of a biochar production device sized for a small farm.

Industry Experience

Before returning to academics to pursue his PhD, Dr. Prins worked for one year as a suspension engineer at Visteon, Inc an OEM for the automobile industry, and for five years at Perceptron, Inc in the roles of Applications Evaluation Engineer and Product Engineer in the field of machine vision.

CV (PDF)

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