DETROIT – Experts from Michigan’s University Research Corridor an alliance of Michigan State University (MSU), the University of Michigan (U-M), and Wayne State University (WSU) today highlighted how their universities are leading the nation in preparing students who will take their talents into the ever-changing mobility industry during a panel hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation at AutoMobili-D, part of the North American International Auto Show.

The URC’s three major research universities lead the nation in preparing students to help shape the evolving mobility industry, with 14,824 mobility-career graduates more than top university clusters in California, Texas and Massachusetts. It also prepares more than 46% of Michigan graduates who hold degrees in high demand by the mobility industry, such as business, computer science and engineering degrees.

Over the past five years, the URC has conducted more than $542.4 million in research and development specific to the future of mobility, including work that involves autonomous vehicles, crosswalk and curb sensors, cybersecurity, consumer experiences and the social changes new mobility technology will bring.

MSU has transformed its 5,300-acre campus into a live, connected ecosystem to advance smart-vehicle technology and better understand how it relates to the human element. With a range of urban, suburban, industrial and rural zones, featuring nearly 60 lane miles of roads, MSU’s controlled infrastructure and active campus make it ideal to test emerging technologies for new mobility solutions.

“Mobility-related research and academic offerings are a core focus at Michigan State University and across the URC,” said Satish Udpa, University Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Interim Director of MSU Mobility. “The work we’re doing has real-life implications for how autonomous vehicles and other new mobility technologies can help residents in Michigan and around the world lead safer, fuller lives.”

U-M’s Mcity, a public-private research partnership among industry, government and academia, funds research, works with partners to deploy connected and automated vehicles in the community, and operates the Mcity Test Facility. The test facility opened in 2015 as the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for these vehicles, offering a safe, controlled site to test performance and safety in a “city” set up to simulate urban and suburban driving.

Earlier this week, the National Science Foundation awarded $5.1 million to Mcity to enable remote, next-generation autonomous vehicle testing at the Mcity Test Facility. This will give researchers nationwide — many without testing resources — remote access to the test track and research vehicles, creating a more equitable playing field in mobility.

“We need to think big when it comes to mobility, and the research the URC universities are performing is helping achieve that goal,” said U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) Director Jim Sayer. “Our unique Mcity Test Facility, along with our research and education efforts – such as UMTRI’s experiential learning opportunities for more than 300 students this past academic year – will help develop the future of the fast-changing mobility industry right here in Michigan.”

At WSU, the CAR Lab focuses on using design, technology and large datasets to manage and improve safety and mobility on roadways. With funding from state and federal agencies, WSU researchers are developing and implementing new technologies that range from traffic calming strategies to optimizing connected vehicle data and mobility performance measurements.

“Our research brings the work of our URC institutions in front of the companies around the world developing the mobility technology of tomorrow,” said WSU CAR Lab Co-Director Zheng Dong. “We’re helping the industry understand how to better process, manage and secure the enormous amount of data being generated and shared between autonomous vehicles, devices and other elements in the mobility ecosystem.”

The 2022 URC Economic Impact Report showed that for every dollar that the state has invested in URC institutions, the URC has put back $22 into the state economy. The three URC universities enroll more than 139,000 students and grant nearly 12,000 degrees in high-tech areas annually.

URC alumni account for nearly $1 out of every $5 in earnings and income statewide — $48.3 billion in fiscal year 2021. URC alumni also founded new businesses at nearly twice the national rate, contributing to the state’s economic growth.