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Ford & Michigan State University's Innovation Center Expand Research Partnership

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【Summary】The Ford Motor Company announced it will expand its partnership and research with Michigan State University (MSU) to include new areas of emerging automotive technology such as the development of lightweight materials, sensors and other automotive technology.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 20, 2018 12:14 PM PT
 Ford & Michigan State University's Innovation Center Expand Research Partnership

DEARBORN, Mich., — The Ford Motor Company announced it will expand its partnership and research with Michigan State University (MSU) to include new areas of emerging automotive technology such as the development of lightweight materials, sensors and other automotive technology.

The deal allows the university to showcase it expertise in developing new technology for the automotive industry, some of which might be featured in upcoming Ford models.

Ford said it chose to grow its partnership with Michigan State based on the number of successful projects the company and university have worked on in the past, including collaborations in advanced engines, composite materials and information technology.

"No company – no matter how large or vertically integrated – has the internal resources to lead in all important technical areas," said Ed Krause, Ford global manager, external alliances. "Partnering with leading research universities like Michigan State is an important part of Ford's strategy to access world-class external talent."

Ford's collaboration with MSU is part of a growing trend of automakers partnering with tech companies, university researchers and other startups on developing advanced technologies, such as autonomous driving.

For years, Detroit's big three automakers have kept most of their research and development in-house. Now that cars are becoming computers on wheels, automakers have turned to companies and researchers outside of the traditional automotive industry, including startups in Silicon Valley, where Ford opened its own Research and Innovation Center.

In March 2017, Ford announced it was hiring 400 engineers and investing $375 million to expand its research and development efforts in Canada as well as create a new center focused on connectivity in vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems and self-driving technology.

The MSU Innovation Center works to bring cutting-edge ideas to the marketplace across many industries.

Since 2014, Ford has invested in more than 50 projects at Michigan State's Innovation Center, including work on automotive powertrains and electrification. The expanded project portfolio will involve existing and new Michigan State faculty and students, as well as Ford researchers.

"This is a leading example of collaboration between industry and academia that demonstrates how MSU partnerships can both advance research and help develop innovative global solutions," said Charles Hasemann, Michigan State University assistant vice president for innovation and economic development, MSU Innovation Center.

"Research collaborations like this one with Ford allow companies and MSU to share resources and expertise to solve real-world problems," he added. "The novel outcomes from these collaborations advance knowledge and understanding, while also achieving a positive economic outcome for the company and for Michigan."

Ford believes its research alliance with Michigan State University can further develop its technical capabilities as the automotive industry transitions to building high-tech vehicles. Many of these vehicles will be electrified and capable of autonomous driving.

"Our four-year research alliance with Michigan State has taken our relationship to the next level and has surpassed Ford's expectations," said Krause. "Not only have we been able to deepen relationships with longtime faculty collaborators, we have discovered and engaged new expertise and capability at Michigan State in both expected and unexpected areas."

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