Public Engagement & Impact
Fierce rivals on the playing field, U-M and Michigan State University are working together to ensure that the state of Michigan remains the center of mobility research.
For second year in a row, the universities have teamed up for a joint display at the North American International Auto Show’s AutoMobili-D exhibit at Cobo Center in Detroit.
AutoMobili-D brings together suppliers, automakers, entrepreneurs, and higher education institutions to showcase innovations in connected vehicles, urban mobility, autonomous technology, cybersecurity, ride sharing, and workforce development. AutoMobili-D runs through Jan. 17 in the lower level of Cobo Center.
“U-M and MSU both have a strong history of engineering in the field of automotive and mobility,” said Huei Peng, director of Mcity and the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at U-M. “So it’s very important that we work together, share courses, and share best practices to make sure the industry is supported in this state by its higher education institutions.”
Since 2016, U-M faculty have won more than 200 research awards totaling over $118 million for transportation and mobility projects.
Mobility research is broad and requires expertise not just in engineering, but social sciences, business, law, IT, and communications. That’s right in the wheelhouse of research universities, said Leo Kempel, dean of the college of engineering at Michigan State.
“It’s broader than just technology. It’s the entire ecosystem of making vehicles autonomous or advancing mobility,” said Kempel. “Take U-M and Michigan State together with peers at Wayne State, Michigan Tech, Western Michigan, and so forth, and we have the strongest research and education ecosystem not just in the Midwest but in the country.”
The state is home to seven automotive R&D headquarters, 62 top parts suppliers, and more than 2,200 independent research facilities.
Peng sees the automotive companies transforming from a purely automotive focus to a mobility focus — looking at multiple ways to transport people from place to place smarter and safer. The state’s history can also lay the foundation for its future, he says.
“We have the talent, we have the experience, and we have a lot of know-how in not only building cars but also operating cars,” Peng said. “Once we have integrated that with information technology, sensory perception, and IT, we should play a very important role in the new era of mobility.”
MOBILITY AT U-M