U-M, MSU, WSU Lead Nation in Talent Development for Mobility Industry

According to a new report released by Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) based in Lansing, the state’s three major research universities — the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan State University in East Lansing, and Wayne State University in Detroit — are leading the nation in preparing students for the rapidly changing mobility industry.
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Self driving autonomous cars on multi lane city street. The cars are using radar sensors, wireless communication, GPS and artificial intelligence to navigate and communicate with each other.
Michigan’s University Research Corridor has released a study showing the state’s three major research universities produce more mobility industry talent than any other university cluster in the country. // Stock Photo

According to a new report released by Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) based in Lansing, the state’s three major research universities — the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan State University in East Lansing, and Wayne State University in Detroit — are leading the nation in preparing students for the rapidly changing mobility industry.

The URC is an alliance of the three schools and is the top university innovation cluster for preparing graduates for a job in mobility, totaling 14,824. This is more than university clusters in California, Texas, and Massachusetts. It also prepares more than 46 percent of Michigan graduates in hold degrees in high demand by the mobility industry.

“The URC is vital to securing Michigan’s global position in the mobility industry and critical to its future global leadership,” says Britany Affolter-Caine, executive director of URC. “The URC universities provide the talent and research that are keeping Michigan at the forefront of mobility innovation, bringing jobs and sustainable economic growth to our state.”

The URC universities have also been instrumental in conducting research and transferring innovations to the market in the mobility industry, which is working to tie together connected and automated vehicles, expand mass transit, innovate road construction technology, and make public charging stations more available, amongst other changes.

The universities also work closely with mobility centers and businesses, like the Academic Consortium at the American Center for Mobility, a nonprofit smart mobility test center inn Ypsilanti.

MSU has transformed its 5,300-acre campus into a live, connected ecosystem to advance smart vehicle technology and better understand how it will interact with humans. The campus has a range of areas — from urban to industrial to rural — that allows it to test a wide variety of scenarios.

“Mobility-related research and academic offerings are a core focus at Michigan State University and across the URC,” says Satish Udpa, director of MSU Mobility and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “The work we’re doing has real-life implications for how autonomous vehicles and other new mobility technologies can help residents in Michigan and around the world lead safer, fuller lives.”

U-M established Mcity, a public-private research partnership among industry, government, and academia that works to fund research and deploy connected and automated vehicles in the community. It also operates the MCity Test Facility, which opened in 2015 as a purpose-built proving ground for these vehicles.

“We need to think big when it comes to mobility, and the research the URC universities are performing is helping achieve that goal,” says Jim Sayer, director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute. “Our unique Mcity Test Facility, along with our research and education efforts – such as UMTRI’s experiential learning opportunities for more than 300 students this past academic year – will help develop the future of the fast-changing mobility industry right here in Michigan.”

WSU’s transportation research group focuses on using technology and large datasets to manage and improve safety and mobility on roadways. Researchers are developing and implementing new technologies ranging from traffic calming strategies to optimizing connected vehicle data with funding from state and federal agencies.

“Mobility research draws on such a wide spectrum of knowledge, from changing the motor vehicles we create to finding new ways to make communities safer, cleaner and more connected for all,” says Weisong Shi, WSU Wayne Mobility Initiative chair. “Our research in the fast-evolving world of mobility helps bring the work of our URC institutions in front of the companies around the world developing the mobility technology of tomorrow.”

In the past five years, the URC has conducted more than $542.4 million in research and development specific to the future of mobility, including work that involves autonomous vehicles, crosswalk and curb sensors, cybersecurity, consumer experiences and the social changes new mobility technology will bring.

“Continued investment in mobility research and education will help keep Michigan a global leader in the mobility and electrification industry,” says Kathryn Snorrason, managing director of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“It’s clear that the URC universities’ expertise and capacity for mobility research and talent development has had an impact on creating good Michigan jobs that support our local communities and align with our vision to build a stronger state economy through safer, more equitable and environmentally conscious transportation.”

The view the full report, click here.

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