WCC showcasing advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity programs at NAIAS

January 13, 2019 Richard Rezler

DETROIT, Michigan (January 14, 2019) – The term 'advanced transportation' has been defined as the point where advanced manufacturing and information technology intersect. Washtenaw Community College is back at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to showcase how it is combining those two worlds to help create the talent pipeline for the mobility revolution.

WCC is taking its place among high-profile automakers, suppliers, tech startups and universities at Automobili-D, a Michigan Economic Development Corporation-driven event held January 14-17 that aims to position Michigan as the global epicenter for advanced transportation.

"What the Advanced Transportation Center at Washtenaw Community College offers – via our degree and certificate programs and training offered through our Workforce Development department – provides students the in-demand skills they need for success in the workforce of today and the future," said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. "What better place to demonstrate what we offer than at the North American International Auto Show? We're pleased to be back on the global stage at NAIAS for a third straight year."

The WCC exhibit, located in booth UA11 in Hall E of the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, includes one-of-a-kind examples of both the college's advanced manufacturing and information technology programs.

In its Advanced Manufacturing labs, WCC faculty and students customized a Polaris Slingshot for the event. Every modification highlights a different skill or technology either currently being taught on campus or in the process of being worked into current program offerings. They include:

  • A dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) system, front and rear LIDAR sensors that display their illuminated targets on a mounted tablet, and a 360-degree object detection system used by self-driving vehicles that streams its image onto a nearby monitor – all examples of autonomous and connected vehicle technology.
  • Multiple 3D-printed parts – including wheels printed in carbon fiber – designed with programs taught in Mechatronics and Numerical Control Tool and printed in the college’s 3D Printing labs.
  • Lightweight parts such as a top engine cover, front wings and roll bar humps made of composite materials that were developed, molded and pressurized in the college’s autoclave; the same process learned by Auto Body Repair students.
  • Built-in data collection points running on-board diagnostics to a laptop mounted in the vehicle and a strain gauge data logger; technology used by Automotive Test Technician and Motorcycle Service Technology students.
  • Showpiece details such as wheel stands with WCC logos and “Washtenaw Community College” spelled out across an LED-lighted bridge created with a plasma cutter used in the college’s welding program.
  • Multiple parts and vehicle details were powder coated, a process taught in the Motorcycle Service Technology program.

"Everything done to this vehicle was something that our students can learn in a class today, and it was done on equipment that is being used in the workplace today," said Advanced Transportation Center Director Al Lecz. "That kind of hands-on experience is what gives our students a competitive advantage when they're seeking employment."

The college's recently-acquired information technology tool – a mobile hacking workbench – will also be on display in the booth. WCC is believed to be the only college in the nation with such a cybersecurity tool, an exact replica of an automobile's complete communication and computer system designed to teach students how to reverse engineer and prevent breaches.

The mobile hacking workbench was built for WCC by leading cybersecurity research and engineering firm GRIMM and purchased in October 2018 with funds from the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation grant. WCC partners with the University of Michigan and four other four-year universities on CCAT, which promotes transportation safety through research and development of connected and autonomous vehicles, intelligent infrastructure and traffic control systems.


Washtenaw Community College will also play an integral role in the auto show's Future Automotive Career Exposition (FACE) on Thursday, Jan. 17.

WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca will be part of two panel discussions during the day-long event, designed for individuals interested in careers in the emerging high-tech mobility and automotive sectors. Both sessions are held in the MEDC Theatre in Hall E:

  • Feeding the Beast: Keeping Up with Demand for Mobility Talent. 12-12:45 p.m. Bellanca will be joined by John Bukowicz of the LIASE Group, Robert Chiaravalli of Strategic Labor and Human Resources and Joe LaRussa of Brose North America.
  • Lifelong Learning: Anticipating Your Next Career Shift. 3:10-3:35 p.m. Bellanca will be joined by Doug Smith of Oakland Community College.

FACE is a free event for students or recent graduates starting their job search or adults looking to transition into new career paths. It offers opportunities for attendees to talk to HR representatives at automotive companies and suppliers, participate in mock interviews, and get additional job search-related advice.


GRIMM, the cybersecurity research and engineering firm that built WCC’s new mobile hacking workbench, is hosting a five-day Defensive Automotive Engineering Training on the WCC campus beginning Monday, Feb. 25.

Participants will gain an understanding of the automotive cybersecurity threat-landscape from an attackers perspective. Each day the student will have hands-on labs to complement the day’s lecture. 


For interviews with Dr. Rose B. Bellanca or Al Lecz, contact Susan Ferraro, WCC Director of Media Relations, 734-677-5295, [email protected].

Tags: Information Technology, Manufacturing, Mobility, North America International Auto Show, cybersecurity, ousearch_News_2019

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