The University Record, February 11, 1998

College of Engineering and General Motors to form satellite research lab

By Adam Marcus
College of Engineering

The College of Engineering has teamed up with General Motors Global Research and Development Operations to host a satellite research lab on campus.

Representatives from the College and GM, the nation's largest automaker, signed an official letter of understanding Jan. 30 to launch the $5 million project. While details are yet to be finalized, the partnership initially will have two divisions, focussing on applied advanced engine and body design and development. In addition to the joint research effort, the satellite laboratory will give U-M engineering students ready access to GM projects, engineers and designers.

Stephen W. Director, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at U-M, said the satellite lab would be a significant opportunity for the College's faculty and students to interact with their counterparts in industry. "We are very excited about this partnership, which will allow our researchers to swap expertise with some of the best engineers in the country. Also, by working with industry, our students will get a chance to integrate what they learn into actual automotive applications."

Research in the satellite lab, the first involving an American automaker and a U.S. university, is slated to begin in March. Initial work will concentrate on body manufacturing and powertrain diagnostics.

"We are delighted to see this culmination of our efforts during the last two or three years to create the most meaningful relationship between GM and the University of Michigan in conducting fundamentally important research for the automotive industry," said Panos Papalambros, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM).

Faculty from MEAM, which houses the College's Automotive Research Center, will coordinate the U-M's efforts with the projects.

"This new project with the University of Michigan will allow GM to leverage critical skills, and expand our technology networks," said Kenneth R. Baker, GM vice president for global research and development operations. "It is also a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the academic community."