Michigan State University establishes Advisory Council to further accelerate MSU Mobility’s vision

April 27, 2021


By Caroline Brooks

Michigan State University announced today it has assembled the MSU Mobility Advisory Council to help guide the university’s vision for the future of mobility. With experts from eight respected mobility-oriented organizations taking part in the council, MSU is well positioned to gain valuable insight and perspectives of future industry and societal needs and the types of research and projects that MSU could support. Additional members may be invited to join the council in the future.

“This council will have a big role in helping us identify new projects as well as prioritize our mobility-related research and academic offerings, which is a core focus at Michigan State University,” said Satish Udpa, interim director of MSU Mobility and University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering. “We are grateful to all council members who have committed to dedicating time to this group; this council will be a truly valuable asset and we look forward to the in-depth and thought-provoking conversations and insight that will be shared.”

Most companies have one member supporting the council, but in some cases, there are two members designated per company, with participation based on availability.

Participating council members, in addition to Udpa, include:

·       Dan Garrison and Clint Crook, Accenture

·       Paul Thomas, Robert Bosch LLC

·       Bethany Tabor and Jeff Myrom, CMS Energy

·       Robert Hubbard, Cisco’s Smart Communities and Energy

·       Bill Frykman, City Solutions North America, Ford

·       David Gorsich and Denise Rizzo, U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center

·       Glenn Stevens Jr., MICHauto and Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber

·       Frank Weith, director of Connected and Mobility Services and Ventic, LLC of Volkswagen Group of America

Currently, MSU is conducting a wide scope of significant research projects to help further position Michigan as a mobility hub, with a concentration on first and last mile initiatives and technologies. More than 50 faculty members from seven colleges at MSU — social science, engineering, agriculture and natural resources, communication arts and sciences, law, natural science and the Eli Broad College of Business — are working collaboratively to advance MSU Mobility initiatives and will be active with and benefit from dialogue of the new council. Ultimately, the council will help MSU Mobility leaders determine which research projects should be expedited, identify opportunities to refocus existing projects and develop new programs the university could undertake to best prepare the university and its surrounding communities for the future of mobility.

The council’s first meeting took place virtually on April 23.

About MSU Mobility

MSU has transformed its 5,200-acre campus into a live, connected ecosystem to advance smart-vehicle technology and better understand the human element. With a range of urban, suburban, industrial and rural zones, featuring nearly 60 lane miles of roads, MSU’s controlled infrastructure and active campus make it ideal to test emerging technologies for new mobility solutions.

Spartan Mobility Village is home to MSU’s mobility labs where roadways and parking lots can be closed for testing of new technologies. In the future, unoccupied buildings will be used as a background for sensing technologies, including radar clutter simulating the suburban and urban environment.

To learn more about mobility at MSU and the university’s ecosystem approach, visit mobility.msu.edu.

View original article here

Discover Auto: HELLA Virtual Tour

On April 15, MICHauto along with partner Square One Education Network held a virtual Discover Auto tour featuring HELLA. Students, teachers, and guidance counselors were in attendance from all over the state of Michigan, including Detroit, Macomb, Kalamazoo, Grand Ledge, Ann Arbor, Grayling, and the Upper Peninsula.

The event began with an introduction from Square One, an overview of MICHauto, and background on how MICHauto’s program coordinator, Jenny Orletski-Dehne, began her career in the automotive industry. Participants watched a pre-recorded video from HELLA, lead by Madison Kielty, marketing analyst for HELLA, which included a compilation of short career overviews from employees such as Joerg Weisberger, chief executive officer; Evan Pavlick, global sales director; Karthik Devaraj, business development manager for advanced engineering; and Carissa Silas, marketing specialist.

Following the presentation, students were able to ask the HELLA participants questions in a live Q&A. Questions included:

  • How have you adapted to the current working environment?
  • Is it difficult working on mechanical parts for cars, such as brakes and wheels, and what kind of education do you need?
  • How can foreign language skills help in the automotive industry?

Through the virtual tour, students were able to learn about various career opportunities right in their backyard. This event was the first in a series of virtual Discover Auto tours with Square One. Below are the dates and links to register for upcoming tours.

If you know of any teachers or students who would like to get involved in an upcoming tour, please share the links below.

Omron: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIlcuupqzgrHtHixEF6yCh0XEcU3p-EzHTr?fbclid=IwAR2imnLlIWixdP3YKzJyrAAawjn_x5Xn2HOMIutt92nNSBiJAlGX-cOH4kk

Brose: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrce-qrjgiGdY-TF-YZ6s4RRO08o14_eCB

In Case You Missed It: Executive Session with John Murphy

On April 20, MICHauto hosted an Executive Session for CEOs from the MICHauto community, featuring John Murphy, managing director and head of U.S. Automotive Equity Research for Bank of America Global Research. Murphy shared insights with Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, and industry executives about the current automotive market dynamics.

Catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy says that while the U.S. automotive cycle may have hit a trough in 2020, sales have made a remarkable V-shaped recovery since mid-2020. Other dynamics have contributed to a stable, yet uncertain market, and some bumps are expected in the short-term with a four-to-five-year window of recovery to 17 to 18 million units. China and the U.S. are outpacing Europe in terms of recovery, but ongoing supply chain disruptions could contribute to a downward slide in global production and sales this year, with a likely recovery in 2022 and beyond.

Despite uncertainty, OEMs are demonstrating a commitment to product activity for development of new electric vehicles (EV) and crossover utility vehicle (CUV) models. These product efforts are increasingly directed towards powertrain advancement, with a surge in EV model launches by both incumbents and new automakers. Within the forecast horizon, it is expected that 50% of powertrains will be internal combustion engines (ICE), with the growth of EVs, hybrids, and fuel cell options.

Now is a pivotal point in the automotive industry and companies must remain diligent in optimizing their core business, while also investing in the future to ensure long-term sustainability and market position in the face of emerging auto-tech companies.

COVID-19 Town Hall: Ford Motor Company’s Medical Director Dr. Francesca Litow

Ford Motor Company has been a leader in COVID-19 mitigation efforts since April 2020. In addition to being one of the first manufacturers to pivot toward making personal protective equipment, Ford has been a forerunner in implementing successful return-to-work safety protocols and on-site vaccination for employees. Dr. Francesca Litow, medical director of global occupational health services at Ford, shared more about the company’s medical policies, programs, and procedures to #FinishStrong in the battle against COVID-19.

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across Michigan, Litow shared three contributing factors to this trend:

  1. Variants: The B.1.1.7 variant has been particularly prevalent in Michigan, and though it doesn’t seem to make people sicker, it is proving much more contagious.
  2. Increased activities and gatherings: People are doing more things that they weren’t in the fall and winter, like attending school in person, eating out, and gathering socially more.
  3. Travel: Travel has picked up significantly recently, and especially with Detroit’s international airport hub, more people from different places are mingling with each other, increasing the risk for spread.

Key To Successfully Navigating The Virus: Putting Employee Wellness And Safety First

Despite these recent trends, Ford and the automotive industry have found successful strategies for dealing with the virus. Litow cited two foundational components of this response.

“Everything we do has always been done with the premise that the safety of our employees is the most important thing,” said Litow. The next factor was the need to keep running manufacturing plants for business viability.

Ford also worked closely with a network of partners like the UAW, local and state government leaders, suppliers, OEMs, and a host of leading medical experts.

“Although we have a well-trained team of medical experts and safety professionals, we also look to external experts to learn about best practices,” said Litow.

Ford’s COVID-19 playbook prepared employees for what it would be like to return to work and clearly outlined medical and safety procedures for keeping the workplace safe. This document was informed by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health department orders so it can be applied to other businesses.

Engaging Employees Amid Evolving Guidance

As the virus’ status and guidance continue to rapidly change, Litow does daily “environmental scans” to ensure the team has the latest information and most effective, timely recommendations. The Ford team’s multi-disciplinary approach also makes keeping up with best practices amid evolving conditions more productive, engaging medical and safety, human resources, legal, and labor affairs and operations departments to inform policy.

This pandemic has drastically blurred the lines between professional and personal life and impacted the way people are able to achieve balance and cope with this added stress.

“Recognizing the need to focus on employee well-being and all of our well-being is really important to promoting people’s health and productivity,” said Litow.

She advises paying attention to and reminding people to keep up with their medical wellness and manage medications, health conditions, annual doctor and dental visits, etc., and connecting them to available wellness resources. Encouraging healthy lifestyle practices like staying active and getting outdoors while the weather improves are also helpful ways to keep employees feeling good.

A key part of this wellness is encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For those combatting vaccine hesitancy, Litow recommends “meeting people where they’re at.”  For some, that means sharing information about the vaccines themselves, and for others, it’s about sharing resources for how to get an appointment.

#FinishStrong Campaign

“Ford has always been at the forefront of stepping up in times of need,” said Litow. They manufactured iron lungs during the polio epidemic and became the Arsenal of Democracy during WWII. This time around, they offered support by generating life-saving personal protective equipment and medical supplies to help those on the frontlines fighting the pandemic. That sense of service led to the campaign to encourage everyone to stay strong in safety precautions to help finally bring the pandemic to an end.

Additional Resources:

General COVID-19 information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Resources for workplaces and businesses: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/index.html

Data Highlight: Michigan 2020 Job Vacancy Survey

Michigan’s Labor Market News released findings from the Michigan 2020 Job Vacancy Survey in their March 2021 issue. According to the survey, Michigan’s labor market had 184,000 job vacancies in 2020. The manufacturing industry had the second-lowest job vacancy rate in 2020, meaning there were 2.8 jobs open for every 100 positions filled. Of those job vacancies, approximately 60% required less than one year of experience, and approximately 85% require a high school degree or less.

However, despite being among the hardest hit industries during COVID-19, the manufacturing industry was able to recoup 156,800 of the 201,500 jobs lost during the shutdown in April 2020, as of January 2021. This trend reveals the resiliency of the industry and the opportunities available for job seekers. Read more.

Source: 2020 Michigan Job Vacancy Survey, Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Department of Technology, Management & Budget


Masters of Mobility: Robots on the Road

A true testament to what partners make possible, one project kept inspiration alive for more than 300 robotics students during a time when face-to-face meeting was not possible. Due to COVID-19, many robotics experiences were interrupted. Robotics Alliance of Macomb, Macomb Intermediate School District, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, and Square One Education Network came together to offer students the opportunity to build small robotic vehicles at home or in the classroom for the Masters of Mobility: Robots on the Road project.

Goals for participating students were two-fold:

  1. Develop skills associated with programming, information technology (IT), electrical and mechanical engineering by building vehicles that embody each of those concepts.
  2. Exposure to career pathways in the mobility industry with an emphasis on robotics, sensors, connected, and autonomous vehicle technology.

To provide a real-world experience, Square One Education Network worked with companies to collect and provide 381 robotic vehicle kits, 28 document cameras, 26 PRUSA 3D Printers, 24 hours of training, and two webinar events with industry leaders. This equipment and training allowed students to simulate real-world connected and autonomous vehicle technology by completing mission challenges in a virtual environment.

Carolyn Sauer, senior director for MICHauto had an opportunity to participate in the Dec. 17 webinar focused on manufacturing, saying, “For an industry that needs to quickly build up its workforce for skilled trades, manufacturing, and high-tech roles, like software engineering, this type of experience is necessary to fully engage students in the automotive and mobility field at a young age.”

Demonstrating that students can use their skills and passion for problem-solving and developing technology is important.  Allowing them to experience it takes it to the next level, opening their minds to a host of career possibilities right here in Michigan.

New Partnership Empowers MSU Women in Engineering

Originally published by Michigan State University Innovation Center.

By Tracy Henion

In a move to strengthen the journey among female engineering students, Toyota has partnered with Michigan State University on a mentorship program that builds upon its already strong ties to MSU’s Society of Women Engineers.

Toyota has a long history of supporting K-12 mentorship and STEM programs, but this is the first of its kind at the university level. As everyday technologies advance through autonomous, electric, connected, and mobility vehicles and systems, the timing is spot on.

“Toyota believes we can support the students’ knowledge of these technical areas as well as our personal experiences in the real world,” said Randy Stephens, a group vice president of Product Performance Engineering. “We hope to see students empowered by their collaboration with us.”

Not only is the partnership beneficial for students, but for Toyota’s future as they gain information and prepare for a new generation of engineers. It’s also an opportunity for all involved to launch a program with endless possibilities for expansion.

Given that it is the first year for the program, leaders wanted to start small, with 15 junior and senior engineering students participating. Each mentor was uniquely assigned to a mentee by using information provided based on personalities and interests.

Toyota mentors meet virtually with students at least once a month to discuss career options, challenges and skillsets while providing advice on how to present ideas to grow in the industry.

MSU’s engineering students learned about the program through their advisor, Judith Cordes.

Cordes was motivated by the idea of this program for two reasons. One, she and other advisors are always searching for ways to build on student involvement. “We know from our mentoring program, as well as many studies, that mentoring is a key component for continued success,” Cordes said.

Secondly, they were excited to start a program with corporate partners. Unlike other projects, this one has the ability to impact both MSU students and Toyota engineers.

That partnership was solidified by Brice Nelson of the MSU Innovation Center. As director of corporate partnerships, this kind of work is at the heart of Nelson’s role with Business Connect, a unit of the Innovation Center focused on corporate engagement.

“This is a great example of a corporate partner working with MSU to create a mutually beneficial program,” Nelson said. “The structured mentorship of this critical talent pipeline could very well position Spartan women to have a significant impact on the mobility industry for years to come.”

Jenny Lam and Isabel Woelke, both seniors at MSU, are notable examples of the type of students this program was designed to assist. Having taken on several leadership roles in their academic careers, they were motivated to find yet another way to progress as female engineers.

Both Lam and Woelke are involved with MSU’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, a non-profit educational service organization composed of science and engineering students and graduate engineers who work to recruit, support, and retain women in the engineering profession.

“I am always looking for ways to improve myself professionally and as a student, so I thought this was a good way to get out of my comfort zone and seek some extra help,” Lam said.

Woelke agreed, and said she finds value in connecting with a mentor to discuss career options, professional development opportunities, and day-to-day functions of being an engineer.

“We all have so much to learn from one another,” she said. “I’m just really grateful to be in a program like this.”

Lam has learned to take her mentor’s experiences and mold them into a way where she can apply them to her own life. “My goals for this mentorship are to really work on being a better leader and communicator, and that encompasses building my confidence as well,” she said.

Her mentor, Emily Khouphongsy, an MSU College of Engineering 2008 alumna, served as president of the Society of Women Engineers while a student at MSU. For the past decade, she has been a professional advisor to the group, and is proud to give back to the university by sharing her passion for mentoring.

“I believe we all face challenges as we learn and grow in all areas of life,” Khouphongsy said. “Part of the personal value of life’s challenges is then the opportunity we have to help others as they navigate the same things.”

Breaking Down the American Jobs Plan

President Biden outlined a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan on Wednesday, March 31, that would make a significant investment in roads, bridges, telecommunications, and climate change. The American Jobs Plan includes many MICHauto priorities for workforce development, electric vehicle investment, and research and development.

However, the proposed tax increases would be counter-productive to economic recovery and competitiveness. MICHauto views this bill as a starting point for negotiations and recognizes that transformative infrastructure investment requires bipartisan consensus. In response to President Biden’s plan, MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens released this statement.

“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan represents a transformative investment in Michigan and the United States’ advanced manufacturing and transportation future. MICHauto is broadly supportive of many elements in the plan, including the modernization of our roads, bridges, broadband, workforce development, and making research and development a priority. Michigan’s automotive industry is well-positioned and poised for significant growth. The proposed investment in an electric vehicle charging network and next-generation battery technology will be profoundly beneficial for the automotive industry, Michigan businesses, and workers.

The proposal to significantly raise business taxes is concerning. In the global battle to drive the future of mobility, returning to business tax rates that place American automotive and mobility firms at a global disadvantage will harm the very industry this proposal aims to bolster.

This is an opportunity for bipartisanship, and we encourage leaders from both parties to work together. MICHauto will continue to work with our congressional delegation to monitor this legislation and will continue to provide the perspective of the industry to policymakers.”

MICHauto outlines what is in the proposal below.

Public Infrastructure

  • $115 billion to revamp highways, roads, and bridges. The plan outlined 10 major and 10,000 smaller bridges in need of reconstruction.
  • There is $20 billion in the plan to improve road safety, including measures for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The plan calls for $85 billion to modernize existing transit systems and help agencies expand to meet rider demand. This would double federal funding for public transportation.
  • The plan would invest $111 billion for clean drinking water, $45 billion of which would be used to replace the country’s lead pipes and service lines. The effort would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child-care facilities and improve the safety of drinking water.
  • The plan includes a $25 billion in airports, that would renovate terminals and expand car-free access to air travel.
  • Finally, there is $17 billion proposed for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry and ferries.
  • $80 billion to fix Amtrak’s repair backlog.

Electrifying Transportation

  • The plan provides $174 billion in grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 electric-vehicle chargers by 2030.
  • The proposal would electrify 20% of the country’s yellow school bus fleet and help electrify 50,000 transit vehicles that are currently diesel powered.

Infrastructure for the Home and Local Community

  • The plan would provide for universal broadband, including to more than 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to high-speed Internet.
  • Biden’s proposal would invest $213 billion to build and retrofit more than 2 million homes. The plan would build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income home buyers and invest $40 billion to improve public housing.
  • The plan includes $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools, $12 billion in community college infrastructure, and $25 billion to upgrade child-care facilities.
  • $18 billion to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and $10 billion to revamp federal buildings.

Worker Training and climate resiliency research and development

  • $180 billion for research and development that focuses on reducing emissions, climate resilience and boosting climate-focused research.
  • The plan would invest $50 billion in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
  • The plan creates incentives for companies to locate local manufacturing jobs in the “industrial heartland.”
  • The plan would double the number of registered apprenticeships to more than 1 million and invest in a more inclusive science and technology workforce.

Next Steps

This proposal is only the start of a long process to pass a meaningful infrastructure package. Over the coming months, the MICHauto will continue to provide insight on what the bill means for Michigan businesses and residents.

MICHauto Statement on President Biden’s American Jobs Plan

In response to the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan, MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens released this statement.

“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan represents a transformative investment in Michigan and the United States’ advanced manufacturing and transportation future. MICHauto is broadly supportive of many elements in the plan, including the modernization of our roads, bridges, broadband, workforce development, and making research and development a priority. Michigan’s automotive industry is well-positioned and poised for significant growth. The proposed investment in an electric vehicle charging network and next-generation battery technology will be profoundly beneficial for the automotive industry, Michigan businesses, and workers.

The proposal to significantly raise business taxes is concerning. In the global battle to drive the future of mobility, returning to business tax rates that place American automotive and mobility firms at a global disadvantage will harm the very industry this proposal aims to bolster.

This is an opportunity for bipartisanship, and we encourage leaders from both parties to work together. MICHauto will continue to work with our congressional delegation to monitor this legislation and will continue to provide the perspective of the industry to policymakers.”