January 12, 2018 Richard Rezler
Washtenaw Community College is playing a key role to create the talent pipeline necessary for southeast Michigan to be the epicenter of the autonomous and connected vehicle world and mobility revolution. For the second consecutive year, the college will exhibit its expertise, capabilities, classroom programs and the workforce training it has developed to pursue that goal at the North American International Auto Show [NAIAS].
"We are very proud to play a significant role in assuring the pipeline of talent is filled and growing in the mobility job sector," said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. "Our programs contain a unique mix of experiential learning, traditional classroom learning, e-learning and hands-on training – giving our students the in-demand skills they need for success in today's workplace. What better place to demonstrate what we offer than at a global showcase like the North American International Auto Show?"
WCC's primary presence at NAIAS will be within Automobili-D, the 150,000-square foot exposition focused on autonomous and connected driving, smart cities and mobility services. The WCC exhibit, located in the Planet M/Hall E in booth UA11, will include a prototype vehicle constructed and assembled by WCC faculty and students using state-of-the-art equipment housed in the college's Advanced Transportation Center (ATC).
"The equipment is the same as what is now being used in the workforce," said ATC Director Al Lecz. "This hands-on experience gives our students a competitive advantage when seeking employment."
Key components on the vehicle – built with lightweighting materials -- include a Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) transmitter/receiver and Light Imaging, Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors; mobility technologies needed by transportation modes to connect with each other and to infrastructure support. The new world of mobility, often called Intelligent Transportation Systems, is changing the way people move from place to place and calls for highly skilled workers to diagnose, assess and fix sophisticated technologies which make the systems work.
"Because modes of transportation now need to communicate (or connect) with each other and to the infrastructure that supports them, it was necessary to integrate information technology (IT) into our programs," said Bellanca. "This IT integration is what sets WCC apart from other institutions of higher learning and supports jobs in industries related to automotive, cybersecurity, fiber optics, cloud computing, programming and networking, among many others."
Automobili-D opens during Press Days (January 14-16) and remains active during Industry Preview Days (January 17-18), the Charity Preview (January 19) and the first weekend of the Public Show (Jan. 20-21).
Washtenaw Community College will also play a role in the auto show's Future Automotive Career Exposition (FACE), an event designed by the state of Michigan to develop talent and make people aware of high-skilled employment opportunities. FACE will be included in Automobili-D during the first two public days of the auto show.
As part of FACE, Dr. Bellanca has been invited to participate in a panel discussion on workforce development in the mobility job sector from noon to 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, in the MEDC Theatre in Planet M/Hall E.
The session, entitled "How Higher Education is Focused on Mobility" will also include a WCC student studying powertrain development at the college and will be moderated by Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent & Economic Development.