The evolution of Detroit from an auto manufacturing powerhouse to tech-transport leader is set to advance another stage with the opening of a new mobility center housed at Wayne State University.
The Center for Advanced Mobility, slated to launch this fall, is a partnership between Wayne State’s College of Engineering and the Michigan Mobility Institute, an entity of the Detroit Mobility Lab focused on workforce development in the changing automotive industry.
The facility will use laboratory and demonstration space in Wayne State’s 45,000-square-foot Industry Innovation Center located across the street from TechTown, a business incubator and accelerator.
Program offerings will combine existing coursework with new curriculum and graduate degrees, including a Master of Mobility and certificates focused on self-driving technology, connectivity, smart infrastructure and electrification. A speaker series is also in development.
The center’s launch comes as Ford Motor Co. is pushing forward with ambitious self-driving and urban mobility initiatives in Detroit, notably, its Corktown project featuring a range of smart city initiatives.
In December, Ford launched a pilot program using its ride-hailing service GoRide to help families in the Corktown area pick up meals and attend appointments at local food banks.
Spin, an electric scooter startup Ford acquired last year, has expanded its fleet of scooters in Corktown. And Argo AI, Ford’s partner for autonomous vehicle system development, is testing a Ford Fusion Hybrid self-driving vehicle in Detroit.
The center’s launch also coincides with the news that Ford will complete 7,000 white-collar layoffs this month. Some of the laid off workers, presumably, will enroll in the Wayne State center for retraining.
“There are areas that need to shrink, and areas that need to grow,” commented Ford’s chief technology officer Ken Washington, explaining the company’s new autonomous and mobility orientation during a TechCrunch event in July. “The important aspect is that we have a clarity of vision.”