Mobility grant drives WMU and state forward as leaders in high-tech education, research and training

Contact: Liz VandenHeede

Undergraduate research assistant Maggie Waechter (left) works with Dr. Claudia Fajardo-Hansford  (right) and Dr. Parviz Merati in the Center for Advanced Vehicle Design, which recently earned a grant for research and career development in the mobility industry.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is one of three research universities selected by the state of Michigan to receive funding to support research, educational and technical workforce training initiatives for students and professionals in the mobility industry. The strategic grants, announced by Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and the Office for Future Mobility and Electrification, are aimed at establishing Michigan as a leader for high tech education, research and training.

Western’s grant was awarded to the Center for Advanced Vehicle Design and Simulation (CAViDS) that is led by Dr. Claudia Fajardo-Hansford, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Fajardo-Hansford serves as the principal investigator on the grant with WMU partners Dr. John Bair, executive director of CAViDS, and Dr. Parviz Merati, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Industry and community collaborators include Dana Incorporated, Eaton, The Lubrizol Corporation and Michigan Works! Southwest.

CAViDS provides a platform for collaboration between industry and academia to develop breakthrough technological solutions that can have deep economic, social, and environmental impacts, while training the next generation of engineers.

“As part of this grant, we are developing a unique piece of equipment to test gears at high rotational speeds. This effort aligns with electric vehicle drivetrain needs. CAViDS is simultaneously developing models to predict gear failure at those speeds, so this equipment is much needed to generate experimental data to validate those models,” says Fajardo-Hansford. “It puts Western at the forefront of research in this area both from theoretical and applied standpoints.”

The $775,000 in funding from the Mobility Public-Private Partnership & Programming (MP4) Grant was divided among the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University and Western. The funding will support more than 200 students pursuing careers in mobility, innovation electrification and the future of infrastructure.

“The state of Michigan has been laser-focused on building the talent necessary to make Michigan the best place to build the future,” says Gilchrist in a news release announcing the funding. “We’re proud to support our internationally renowned higher education institutions in their efforts to provide opportunities for our workforce to experience entrepreneurship, get hands-on testing experience, and explore world-changing ideas. Together, we’re making it clear that the future of cars, batteries, and tech is being made here in Michigan.”

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