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$10M gift fuels GM, U-M collaborations

General Motors Corp. and U-M announced Feb. 4 that GM will give the University more than $10 million in grants for joint research and development programs and educational enhancement.

GM will fund two Collaborative Research Laboratories (CRL) at the University, providing $9 million over the next five years. These labs will focus on Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing and Engine Systems Research.

GM also will provide a grant of $1.2 million over three years to enhance a variety of College of Engineering (CoE) and Business School initiatives, including their joint Tauber Manufacturing Institute, diversity programs, scholarships, high-school outreach and classroom instruction delivered simultaneously in multiple countries.

"GM and the U-M have a successful history of working together to advance automotive technology, while helping train the best and brightest automotive leaders," says Tom Stephens, GM Powertrain group vice president. "Our work with U-M faculty and students is a tremendous partnership that helps us in the development of cleaner, more efficient gasoline and diesel engines and to better understand how we manufacture, market and sell GM vehicles."

The CRL announcement builds upon a program started in 1998 when GM Research and Development established its first CRL at the University. That program focused on advanced powertrain, advanced body design and manufacturing, and system optimization.

"This partnership brings together an impressive group of top-notch minds to help GM tackle some important issues around engine efficiencies and vehicle manufacturing," says Alan Taub, executive director of science laboratories at the GM Research and Development Center in Warren. "Several U-M engineering graduates have moved on to careers at GM, so programs like these also help us train future leaders in our industry."

The 1998 program was so successful that GM and U-M are expanding their efforts significantly, he says.

The original CRL will be expanded to focus on Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing. The lab will concentrate on four key areas of manufacturing: forming, joining, assembly and manufacturing systems.

The expanded Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing CRL will be a five-year commitment, running through 2007. Total funding will be $3.8 million, with $2.4 million of this going toward sponsored research and $1.4 million for research grants.

The second CRL will be a new effort focusing on Engine Systems Research. This project also will be a five-year commitment. It will have total funding of $5.25 million with roughly equal amounts going toward sponsored research and unrestricted grants.

Work in the Engine Systems CRL will include such key issues as optical diagnostics and understanding of the thermal conditions in direct-injection engines, optimizing diesel engine combustion, and modeling of engine and aftertreatment systems.

"We are grateful for GM's historical and growing support of the University of Michigan College of Engineering," says Stephen Director, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. "By investing in technological innovation, bright minds and a diverse community, GM is demonstrating leadership in areas of great importance to our society. Our faculty and students are looking forward to continuing to work with GM to develop improved manufacturing technologies and enhanced engine efficiency. We value the GM relationship and eagerly accept this challenge."

U-M is one of only eight institutions around the world involved in the prestigious CRL program with GM. The others are Brown University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, RWTH-Aachen University in Germany, and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore in India.

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