July 22, 2021 Fran LeFort
Washtenaw Community College has added an all-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV to its bank of cutting-edge technology, solidifying its leadership in preparing the workforce of the future.
WCC’s new asset, just named “Electric Vehicle of the Year” by Car and Driver magazine (July/August 2021), was purchased with State of Michigan Perkins Funding. It will be incorporated into WCC’s Advanced Transportation Center, established in 2014 with a $10 million investment to train students and meet the needs of the transportation and mobility manufacturing industries.
The Mustang Mach-E will provide hands-on, cross functional learning opportunities for next-generation electric vehicle (EV) jobs, including evaluating functional performance and driving range; diagnostics and servicing EV batteries, motors and powertrain controls, sensors and battery charging performance; cybersecurity coding to protect driver privacy and vehicle infotainment systems; and exploring additive manufacturing processes for select components to provide light weighting recommendations that will impact driving range.
The college is coordinating the vehicle's purpose with activities of the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT), a consortium of five Midwestern higher education institutions for research and product development on connected and automated vehicles. WCC is the only community college participating in CCAT, joining the University of Michigan, Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Akron and Central State University.
Sales of electric vehicles are surging, creating demand for specialized talent.
A recent Ford Motor Co. report said sales of its electrified vehicles expanded 117% in June, and the Federal government is calling for a national network of 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030.
“We are thrilled to have one of the newest electric battery vehicles to train our students for the jobs of tomorrow," said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. "At any given time, we have an average of 1,000 students enrolled in our mobility-related courses, and this is a big step in our commitment to prepare highly skilled workers and fill a much-needed talent gap.”
The college will debut its Mustang Mach-E at this year’s Motor Bella Automobili-D Days in September at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. Motor Bella is this year’s bridge event for the North American International Auto Show usually held in Detroit.
WCC’s Transportation Technologies and Cybersecurity faculty members are enhancing academic programs around the new Mustang Mach-E and will demonstrate a cybersecurity mobile hacking workbench at its interactive Motor Bella booth on Sept. 21-22.
WCC recently expanded and upgraded its Automotive Cybersecurity Lab, which includes 12 new Umlaut workbenches identical to those in the automotive industry to train students in engineering and cybersecurity related to a vehicles’ internal network and infotainment system.
In 2020, WCC was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).