Daimler Truck North America Commits $1.3M To Support PSU

By University Communications, Portland State University

Daimler Truck North America has made a $1.3 million philanthropic investment to support faculty and students in Portland State University’s School of Business and its Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The commitment will provide scholarships and assistantships for undergraduates and graduate students in business and engineering. It will also provide support to establish two professorships, one in the PSU School of Business and one in the PSU Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“We are honored by this gift from a key regional employer whose industry leadership and community investments have long had a profound impact on Oregon,” said PSU President Ann Cudd. “Portland State educates a diverse talent pipeline for business and industry. We look forward to deepening a relationship that has been great for students, beneficial for Daimler Truck and important to Portland.”

As the state’s urban-serving public university, PSU educates the largest percentage of diverse, first-generation students — more than 80% of whom remain in the region when they graduate, contributing to Oregon’s long-term growth and stability.

“Daimler Truck North America has long had a strong partnership with PSU, with more than 600 alumni working here over the years,” said Angela Lentz, chief people officer for Daimler Truck North America. “This philanthropic commitment is intended to help build a talent pipeline, enhance research collaborations around industry-applicable topics, and drive regional business and industry growth.”

“Daimler Truck and PSU share fundamental areas of overlapping interest and expertise in engineering and business,” said Joseph Bull, dean of the PSU Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. “By leveraging these capabilities, we can jointly pursue research collaborations in areas such as autonomous vehicles and advanced manufacturing, and pursue innovative solutions to emerging challenges.”

“The fact that this gift supports faculty and students alike reflects Daimler Truck’s long-term partnership with the university,” said Cliff Allen, dean of the PSU School of Business. “For decades, Daimler Truck leaders have shared industry knowledge, reviewed curriculum and research findings, and mentored high-potential students. They have worked alongside us to inspire tomorrow’s diverse talent.”

NC A&T Shows Off New Self-Driving Vehicles

By Zyneria Byrd, Spectrum News 1

GREENSBORO, NC — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University unveiled a fleet of new self-driving vehicles for a new research pilot program.

Students, faculty, staff and community members can take the shuttles from campus to downtown Greensboro.

The fleet is made up of three self-driving shuttles that go no faster than 25 mph, a self-driving van and two regular sedans.

The shuttles can perform all driving tasks under specific circumstances, and a human driver can override and take control of the car. The cars are in compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the university said.

The purpose for the program is to bring autonomous vehicles to public and rural transportation.

“There are a lot of companies working on autonomous vehicles, said Dr. Ali Karimoddini, Professor and Director, CR2C2 Regional University Transportation Center at North Carolina A&T.

He said not many companies are working to use selfdriving vehicles for public transportation and rural transportaion.

“This is the gap that needs more effort and attention. And that’s what our research team is focused to address this gap,” he said.

After the pilot program, the research team will go over feedback from riders to make tweaks to the research to make the autonomous vehicles an even safer ride.

The autonomous vehicle pilot program will be open to the public on weekdays from Sept. 19 to Oct. 13th, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The two stops on this one-mile ride will begin at the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex to the Miriam P. Brenner Children’s Museum.

MnDOT Eyes Autonomous Vehicles to Close Transportation Gaps, Improve Safety

By Catharine Richert and Megan Burks, MPRNEWS

When you hear “autonomous vehicles,” you might think of big tech and Tesla. But the state thinks opportunity.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Connected and Automated Vehicles Director, Tara Olds, says she sees the technology as a chance to fix some persistent transportation problems in the state. Olds has helped oversee three pilot projects — in Rochester, Minn., White Bear Lake, Minn. and now Grand Rapids, Minn. — to explore how autonomous vehicles can improve road safety and access to transportation.

The active Grand Rapids project, goMARTI, is designed to give people with disabilities more options and independence by running in the evening and night. Existing services only run during the day.

Olds joined All Things Considered Thursday to share what she’s learning and her vision for autonomous vehicles in the state.

I want to start out with this title of yours: Connected and Automated Vehicles Director. Talk to me a little bit more about the ‘connected‘ part of your title. What does that refer to?

Connected is really looking at how all areas of transportation can connect to things. How can cars connect to one another? How can other vehicles connect to people walking on the street? How might they be able to use information from our roadway signs, or be able to understand what our signal is saying? Is it a green light, or is it a red light? All of these things allow for vehicles to have a better understanding of [their] surrounding, and also really enhances safety.

You have a project in Grand Rapids that’s meant to address another problem, which is access to transportation. Tell us more about that project. 

In this community in particular, a number of folks that use mobility devices such as wheelchairs, don’t have the same ability to get around their community due to limited transportation options. And so we were able to use this as a supplement, by operating at different hours than the other services that were offered. So it’s now allowing folks to move around their community in the evening and in the nighttime, allowing them to be more connected to people and have a little bit more autonomy. But I will note that the technology doesn’t always work 100 percent of the time, and that’s why we continue to test it.

So I’m based in Rochester and we had an autonomous vehicle in our city’s downtown for about a year. People were a bit confused about it. They didn’t totally know what it was for, or whether it was safe. So how much public education goes into launching these types of programs?

So that was our project that we called the Med City Mover. That was our first public research demonstration project, so we learned a lot, both from a technology side but also how we can engage with communities.

We had another project that recently just ended in White Bear Lake called Bear Tracks, and it was another shuttle. [Because of what we learned in Rochester, we had] a little bit more community involvement to help educate folks in the area and help us understand where they see opportunities best fit for this.

Both the Med City Mover and Bear Tracks are known as low speed autonomous vehicles. So they operate at, I’d say, a maximum speed of around 12 miles per hour. But sometimes it was operating as low as 3 to 7 miles per hour, depending on what the environment was. It also came to a number of stops in the roadway due to things like leaves [in the roadway], different weather conditions, or even steam rising from manholes, where the sensors were detecting that as a potential obstacle. And so these were designed to be incredibly safe and, with that being said, they kind of create a disruption.

We’ve heard a lot of folks who didn’t like how slow they were. We understand that and recognize that perhaps a downtown urban environment might not be the right place for these vehicles. It might be something more on like a dedicated pathway, where these don’t have the same interruption.

What role do you see Minnesota playing as these technologies develop? 

I think one of the biggest opportunities we have is to really look at how winter weather plays a role in this. So much of the testing, so much of the companies [developing autonomous vehicles] are in warm weather states. But Minnesota, along with a number of other Midwest states, has a lot of snow and a lot of cold weather. And quite frankly, we really are encouraging those partners to come and test here in our state, because we believe that if they’re creating transportation solutions that will work here in the summer months, we’d like to see them work all times of the year.

Additionally, we’d like to see how technology can be used in all parts of the state, not just our urban downtown environments, by looking at how they can be used on gravel roadways.

What responsibility do state and other public agencies have in helping to develop these technologies that companies stand to profit from? 

The reason that I like to be in this field and really play a role at the state in it is to ensure that the changes that we create for our transportation system really are addressing the needs of our people, not just creating new shiny technologies.

The Truckers of Tomorrow

By Mindy Long, Transport Topics

In the years ahead, the essential task of hauling the nation’s freight and keeping the economy rolling will increas­ingly shift to a new generation of professional truck drivers.

Attracting workers to step into those roles remains a long-standing challenge for trucking companies, but somehow fleets will need to bring in younger drivers to keep pace with projected freight growth and offset the wave of retirements headed their way as their existing workforce ages.

To accomplish this, fleet operators must find ways to recruit from a broader labor pool and meet the lifestyle preferences and work expectations of future drivers.

Several industry leaders said younger workers expect more from a driving career, including flexible schedules, a clear career path and a sense of belonging.

“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to culture, work-life balance and stability,” said Pat Udovich, chief human resources officer at less-than-truckload carrier A. Duie Pyle. “Culture has become king — rightfully so — and we do not see that changing as the next generation comes onboard.”

On a list of drivers’ priorities, work-life balance has always been a close second to pay, but the younger generation is pushing that level of importance even higher.

“A growing percentage of candidates are even opting for lower-paying jobs with a larger amount of home time or flexibility in taking home time,” said Chris Polenz, vice president of recruiting at truckload carrier Werner Enterprises.

Fleets are adjusting their operations and implementing technology to help provide that flexibility.

Werner, for one, uses its mobile app to match drivers with their needs.

“We have a ‘career opportunities’ tab on our Driver Werner Pro App allowing drivers to search for existing accounts that meet their work-life balance,” Polenz said. “From there, they can select to be added to those wait lists or talk to a career center specialist at any time to discuss their requests.”

Werner, based in Omaha, Neb., ranks No. 17 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Dee Dee Cox, vice president of human resources at Old Dominion Freight Line, said the LTL carrier has been getting more creative in planning its drivers’ schedules.

That requires open and honest communication regarding the company’s and employees’ needs, starting during the interview process, she said. “What is the driver looking for in the long term? Is it OK if the driver is off on Tuesday and Wednesday? Do those days actually work better for home life, or are they looking for a Saturday-Sunday reset?”

A. Duie Pyle offers LTL and dedicated driving jobs that help prospective candidates align with their schedules outside of work, Udovich said.

Getting home daily is a huge sell to many who want to be present for events outside of work, whether it’s their kid’s baseball game or high school graduation, he added.

A. Duie Pyle, based in West Chester, Pa., ranks No. 66 on the for-hire TT100 list.

Despite the push for more home time and flexibility, some young drivers don’t mind being out on the road for longer stretches.

Andy Turi, a 23-year-old driver who joined Brenny Transportation about a year ago, prefers to be on the road. Turi earned his commercial driver license at 18 and worked in regional operations until turning 21.

“Becoming an OTR driver became more enticing because I could live in my truck and get paid,” Turi said. “I have saved tens of thousands of dollars.”

While it was the pay that ­initially attracted him to the industry, his appreciation for trucking has expanded beyond that.

“I’m not doing it for the money anymore,” Turi said. “I like being by myself and getting paid to go places I haven’t been before.”

Garner Trucking, based in Findlay, Ohio, is primarily an over-the-road carrier whose drivers typically spend four to five days overnight in their trucks.

CEO Sherri Garner Brumbaugh said the company sometimes loses drivers to home-daily opportunities, but adjusting freight transportation networks, when possible, can boost retention.

“Relaying, slip seating OTR operations and drop-hook keep a driver moving and not sitting. Creativity many times brings efficiencies to your operation as well,” said Brumbaugh, who is a past chair of American Trucking Associations. “At Garner, we have multiple driving schedules an individual can choose from. Unlike my father’s generation that lived to work, this generation and mine is ‘work to live.’ ”

Pay remains a high priority for drivers, but Brumbaugh has found that experiences also matter to younger employees.

“The trucking industry should be able to provide both — good pay and the experience to see the country,” she said. “Marketing those stories is key.”

Attracting Younger Drivers

The average age of a new entrant into the trucking industry continues to hover between 35 and 38 years old, but younger people oftentimes are in a better position to take on longhaul jobs, said Jeremy Reymer, CEO of DriverReach, a provider of driver recruiting software.

“The best time for a worker’s willingness to be away from home for extended periods of time is when they’re young and have little to no responsibilities or other obligations that would otherwise preclude them from such a working dynamic,” Reymer said.

Brenny Transportation, which is based in St. Joseph, Minn., has focused on recruiting ­younger drivers and got involved with a young-driver training program through the Minnesota Trucking Association.

“We can bring them on locally at 18 years old until they’re of the age to leave the state,” said company founder and CEO Joyce Brenny, who emphasized the carrier’s safety rating and its slow, graduated training process.

Lowering the minimum age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18 also could bring more young people into the industry.

Garner Trucking’s Brumbaugh urged carriers to participate in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s three-year Safe ­Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act requires the ­FMCSA to establish an apprenticeship pilot program that would allow drivers between the ages of 18-20 with an intrastate commercial driver license to operate interstate, but it requires a trucking company to follow rigid rules to participate,” she said.

While becoming a participating carrier and apprentice trainer can be challenging, Brumbaugh said it is necessary.

“If we as an industry fail to participate, we will be the barrier ourselves to attracting a younger generation to our beloved trucking industry,” she said.

Lindsey Trent, president and co-founder of the Next Generation in Trucking Association, said the industry can’t wait until potential hires reach the age of 18. Instead, it has to find ways to engage young people early in their high school careers.

“They are getting bombarded from other industries — welding, plumbing and electricians — and trucking needs to be a part of the conversations too,” Trent said.

The Gen Z workforce is smaller, and skilled trade jobs are growing, she added. “Pair that with the aging workforce that is retiring, and that could equal disaster for our future.”

NextGen Trucking works with student organizations and presents trucking careers to school guidance counselors.

“We have careers that are high skill, high wage and high demand, but young people need to be educated about them in order to be attracted to them,” Trent said.

One of the challenges is that more teenagers are graduating from high school without a driver’s license.

“Acquiring a CDL builds upon an individual’s personal driving record,” Garner Trucking’s Brumbaugh said. “Trucking companies should work collaboratively with our communities to share the importance of obtaining a driver’s license.”

A More Diverse Workforce

Women can play a large part in expanding the industry’s labor pool.

Ellen Voie, founder of Women In Trucking, a nonprofit organization promoting opportunities for women in the transportation industry, said women represent nearly 14% of all over-the-road drivers, and she expects that number to increase.

“More and more women are seeing the opportunity to earn a middle-class income while being able to travel,” she said.

NextGen Trucking’s Trent said young people need to see female role models in trucking and know they are welcome in this industry.

“We need to actively put that messaging out there,” she said.

Attracting employees from across diverse demographics also can help strengthen the industry’s workforce.

“Every person can come into the trucking industry, and there should be no barriers because of gender, race or identity,” Garner Trucking’s Brumbaugh said.

Voie believes there will be more Hispanic drivers and more drivers from Eastern European countries.

“There have been a lot of refugees entering the country, and if we can embrace their customs and accommodate them, we can train them to become ­professional drivers,” she said.

Touting Technology

The advance of technology in the trucking industry can be a valuable tool for attracting new employees.

Old Dominion Freight Line emphasizes the technology installed in a modern truck when meeting with high school students and potential workers in Gen Z, Cox said.

“When we have on-site career fairs, it is important for potential hires to see the equipment they will be working with,” she said. “Once they see the technology, their eyes open up as this is not something they expected.”

ODFL, based in Thomasville, N.C., ranks No. 10 on the for-hire TT100.

Rich Johnson, vice president of school operations at Werner, said technology is a differentiator.

“The next generation has a higher expectation on how ‘connected’ they are to their com­pany, whether it is company apps, in-cab communications or ways for family to stay connected with them while they are on the road,” he said.

Offering More Than a Job

Younger people are increasingly interested in career progression opportunities.

“Gen Z wants to see defined career paths and what you will do as a company to invest in your employees and their future,” NextGen Trucking’s Trent said. “Do you provide a mentorship program, ongoing training or tuition reimbursement? Gen Z wants to work for a company that cares about them and that will develop them.”

Jim Mayer, senior director of media relations and network communications at UPS Inc., said the company fills most of its driver positions by training and promoting from within.

New employees typically are hired to handle packages in UPS facilities.

“After some time in that role, they can bid and train for full-time positions as drivers,” Mayer said. “For those who want to advance their career, the sky is the limit. Our previous CEO, David Abney, started his career loading trucks in Mississippi.”

UPS ranks No. 1 on the for-hire TT100.

Alyssa and Brittney Strickland, 30-year-old twin sisters, ­started with UPS handling packages and then earned their CDLs. Today they work for the company as supervisors within its Class 8 “­feeder” operations.

“A lot of young people are willing to go into this area, but they don’t know about it,” Alyssa Strickland said, adding that 21-year-olds can take advantage of great opportunities immediately. “We give them that free training, and they can get their CDL.”

Two of A. Duie Pyle’s best recruiting tools are its truck driving academy and leadership development program.

“We want to give all our em­ployees, not just drivers, the opportunity to continue to grow and expand their skill sets,” Udovich said.

Many of today’s drivers want a potential pathway to a career outside of the truck, such as in dispatch, maintenance, ­safety or some other management function, DriverReach’s Reymer ­explained.

Werner’s Polenz said many of Werner’s professional drivers have leveraged their driving experience into nondriving jobs in its safety and operations departments.

Having a CDL can add value to those in other positions.

“It is easier to dispatch when you know what is going on,” Brittney Strickland said. “A CDL is a great thing to have even if you don’t use it.”

Isabella Johnson, 18, ­recently earned her CDL and works at Concrete Products in Rhine­lander, Wis. She doesn’t plan to work in over-the-road trucking right now but might someday and thought a CDL would give her flexibility.

“I work with big machinery, and I wanted to be able to haul what­ever I wanted whenever I ­needed,” she said.

Emphasizing Culture

Company culture is essential to attracting and retaining drivers who want to feel like they are part of a team.

“They deserve information about what is happening, ­changes that are coming, and how the company is doing,” ODFL’s Cox said. “Sometimes, I think that aspect can be overlooked as we get caught up in the day-to-day, but it is essential drivers know what is going on with the company and know they play a crucial role in its success.”

Brenny has found that younger workers are tired of hierarchies.

“I’m not saying they shouldn’t earn their stripes, but they want it known that they have a voice and are part of the team,” she said.

Many members of Gen Z also seek out opportunities to give back to society.

Brenny Transportation taps into that with its “Haul of Fame,” which highlights essential products the company has hauled.

“We talk about the difference they’re making and the lives that they are making better,” Brenny said. “Talking about those things is inspiring, and they need to have that sense of purpose and how important their job is.”

Hudson Valley CC Plans $85M Applied Tech Education Center

By Michael Gwizdala, The Record

Realizing the potential of the “invisible workforce.” That goal was top of mind as educators, students, community and business leaders, and elected officials gathered at Hudson Valley Community College’s Cogan Hall Automotive Lab, Wednesday morning. They gathered to unveil plans for an Applied Technology Education Center (ATEC) on HVCC’s Troy campus.

The proposed $85 million, 130,000-square-foot facility will look to train graduates for the “new economy.” ATEC will provide credit and non-credit offerings, preparing new and returning learners for in-demand careers with long and short-term programs. Students will be trained in career industries including but not limited to automotive and transportation technologies, offshore wind, HVAC, welding, and semiconductor manufacturing. ATEC’s increased capacity will have the potential to add 15,000 technicians to New York’s workforce by 2035.

HVCC President Dr. Roger Ramsammy remarked on the need to create skilled workers to match the needs of approximately 17 million vacant skill trade and applied-related jobs.

“Just in our region, we are experiencing unprecedented demands for electricians, electrical engineers, HVAC, mechatronics technicians, semiconductor manufacturing technicians, welders, welding fabricators, electric and autonomous vehicle technicians, and more!” Ramsammy exclaimed.

“We know because that’s our business here at the college and we have to interact with our community, who comes to us begging us to provide that workforce,” Ramsammy continued.

He noted the preparations the college has taken to realize this vision of creating a future workforce, back in 2018.

“We’ve put together what was needed to be in that building. We began establishing the groundwork for what’s going to be in this building by targeting the invisible workforce. We began by building a high school on our campus because we knew that we had to reach deep to our middle school students and get them into our high schools with a mindset,” Ramsammy explained.

Unlike some other four-year institutions, Ramsammy noted the importance of investing in students who will stay and work here in our communities for the local economy and incentivizing more to do the same.

“At Hudson Valley when you pour dollars into here, 97 percent of the kids stay right here and do what they’re supposed to do, serve our business community,” Ramsammy noted.

“This 130,000 square foot building is a building that is going to be constructed to serve that invisible community and it is our friends, our family today, who is going to be part of a signing ceremony to pledge to continue to work with us to make sure that those invisible workers enter that building and exit with the skills whether it’s three months of training of credit or non-credit, six months of training of credit or non-credit, or one year or whether they decide to go on for degrees, it doesn’t matter as long as they have the skills to serve your business is what’s important at the end of the day,” Ramsammy added.

When built, ATEC will enable HVCC to:

  • Increase enrollment in skilled trades programs by 200 percent.
  • Train up to 5,000 new skilled technicians in the next decade, to support the workforce in the areas they are needed most.
  • Expand current programs in areas like Electric and Autonomous Vehicles and Welding and Fabrication to support emerging industries.
  • Establish new programs that focus on areas of key demand.
  • Expand fast-track workforce training courses for those already employed in key industries by offering advanced, industry-validated certifications and skill- and competency-based non-credit workforce training programs and boot camps.
  • Become a magnet for manufacturers and other technical companies around the region and the Northeast seeking a highly skilled workforce and use of industry resources.
  • Fill the skilled trades industry’s skills gap, meet workforce demand, and help grow the region’s economy.
  • Provide the model for other centers for applied technologies at SUNY institutions statewide.

San Jacinto College and Nuro Announce First AV Technician Certificate Program in Texas

By Amanda Fenwick, San Jacinto College

San Jacinto College announced a partnership today with Nuro, a leading autonomous vehicle (AV) company, to create the first AV technician certificate program in Texas as part of Nuro’s national Autonomous Upskilling Initiative.

San Jacinto students will be able to start this unique, one-year certificate program starting Fall 2023. It includes hybrid coursework allowing students to merge computer design and automotive engineering skills, and prepare for jobs in the AV industry. The AV delivery service industry has the potential to create and sustain 3.4 million jobs annually between 2025-2035, according to a Steer report.

“San Jacinto College has a rich history of being at the forefront of helping students build industry-relevant skills. From maritime, aerospace, and automotive technician training, to supporting the petrochemical and medical industries in our region, our college has always done a great job preparing the workforce for the future. We’re excited to partner with Nuro to create the state’s first autonomous technician certificate program for our students, and we appreciate their partnership,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor.

Nuro sees tremendous potential in the AV industry. There is a massive demand for autonomous delivery at scale, which the company aims to meet by partnering with some of the world’s leading brands and making last-mile deliveries in communities with its zero-occupant, zero-emission electric delivery vehicles. By scaling up this service, Nuro wants to strengthen local commerce and drive equitable access to fresh food and other essential goods to underserved communities across the United States.

“Nuro’s expansion in the Houston area will benefit from our ability not only to attract talent but also to meet the growing demand in this field. What’s unique about this program is that it’s open to everyone from first-year students to experienced professionals who want to explore the electric and autonomous vehicle industry. I’m excited to be a part of an effort that will redefine how we train and retain the future workforce in this industry,” said EV Ellington, Head of On-Road Operations at Nuro.

Nuro has the California Bay Area-based De Anza College as part of its Upskilling Initiative to create education and training opportunities in AV.

Clemson University to Launch Nation’s First Bachelor of Science Program in Automotive Engineering

By ClemsonNews,

Clemson University is launching the nation’s first undergraduate Bachelor of Science program in automotive engineering to meet the rapidly changing needs of an industry that is starting to trade the internal combustion engine for batteries and human drivers for self-driving cars.

The new program solidifies Clemson’s position as the premier University for automotive engineering research and education in the Southeast and beyond and adds to the offerings at its award-winning Greenville campus, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

The degree program’s creators expect it will help meet massive demand for a new breed of automotive engineer to lead the design and manufacture of cars and trucks that are quickly becoming computers on wheels powered by electricity.

“Clemson University will continue to lead the way for automotive engineering,” said President Jim Clements. “We are at the heart of the Southeast’s auto industry, and as South Carolina’s leading provider of engineering talent, Clemson is uniquely positioned to launch the nation’s first Bachelor of Science degree in automotive engineering. Through working in tandem with industry, state and federal partners, we are able to shape the future of mobility and create a robust workforce.”

Students can expect an interdisciplinary curriculum with a strong experiential learning component that is aimed at preparing them for the future of automotive manufacturing with an emphasis on cutting-edge technologies ranging from electric vehicles, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and semiconductors to e-hailing, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicle software.

The program’s creators expect it to launch with as many as 30 students in fall 2023 and grow to over 200 by fall 2027.

Undergraduates majoring in automotive engineering will be based on the main campus for their first two years, providing them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the full Clemson Experience, including cheering on the Tigers football team in Memorial Stadium, swimming in Lake Hartwell and eating ice cream at the ’55 Exchange.

For their final two years, students will shift to CU-ICAR, a campus that is home to Clemson’s automotive engineering faculty and graduate program. On the campus, they will be able to take full advantage of the unique experimental facilities and the expertise located there.

A bus service already in place connects CU-ICAR to the main campus 45 minutes away.

Clemson launched its graduate program in automotive engineering in 2006 and was the first university in the country to graduate a Ph.D. student in automotive engineering and the first to graduate a woman with a Ph.D. in automotive engineering.

Zoran Filipi, founding director of the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, said Clemson will build on talent and infrastructure already in place to create the undergraduate program.

“Some of the world’s leading thought leaders and most creative innovators in automotive engineering are on the faculty in the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering,” Filipi said. “We offer cutting-edge facilities, impactful learning experiences and opportunities to collaborate closely with industry partners. Clemson is uniquely positioned to lead in automotive engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.”

Clemson also has a unique geographic advantage that helps position the University to offer the program. The auto industry in South Carolina employs 74,000 and has an economic impact of $27 billion, according to the state Department of Commerce.

The broader Southeast region is home to a growing number of Original Equipment Manufacturers. Within 500 miles of Clemson, the community includes BMW, Volvo, Proterrra, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Honda, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Kia. Each brings a network of suppliers that also create jobs.

The switch to autonomous and electric cars could create as many as 115,000 additional U.S. automotive and mobility industry jobs in the coming decade, including 45,000 for mobility engineers alone, according to a 2019 report by Boston Consulting Group.

Several recent investments that are helping create those jobs in South Carolina were mentioned in Gov. Henry McMaster’s Jan. 25 State of the State address.

To name a few examples:

  • Redwood Materials will invest $3.5 billion for a new battery materials recycling facility, the single largest announcement in the history of South Carolina.
  • BMW is investing $1 billion to prepare its Spartanburg plant to produce electric vehicles and $700 million to build a new, high-voltage battery assembly facility.
  • Bosch plans to invest $200 million in Anderson County to create the company’s first production operation of fuel cell technology in the United States and another $260 million as Bosch launches production of electric motors in Dorchester County to support the U.S. market demand for electrified vehicles.

Those three investments alone are expected to create 2,500 jobs.

Laine Mears, chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering, said demand for automotive engineers is soaring.

“The entire global automotive industry is turning on a dime, and Clemson is stepping up to take the lead to meet industry’s changing needs for both technology and workforce,” he said. “The new undergraduate degree will be a truly integrative program that brings together talent from across a spectrum of disciplines, preparing students for the challenges of the future.”

Students will start with a General Engineering curriculum that includes calculus, physics and other foundational courses required of engineering majors at Clemson. After their first year, students will be eligible to begin taking automotive engineering classes.

By their senior year, students will be ready to work on Deep Orange prototype vehicles as capstone projects.

Those who complete the undergraduate program will receive a Bachelor of Science in automotive engineering. Students who decide to join the first cohort are currently in their first year in college and would be on track to graduate in 2026.

Srikanth Pilla, the ExxonMobil Employees Endowed Chair and Professor of Automotive Engineering, led the development of the curriculum for the new undergraduate program.

“While the new degree program was created in an automotive context, the curriculum has been designed broadly enough that impactful experiences will reach far beyond the car, and students will be well-qualified for a number of careers in the mobility and technology workforces,” said Pilla, who is also the founding director of AIM for Composites Energy Frontier Research Center and the Clemson Composites Center.

“Employers could range from car and aerospace companies to the U.S. Army and software companies such as Google, Apple and Meta. This is a robust curriculum filled with hands-on learning experiences aimed at preparing students to make a contribution on day one of their careers.”

The undergraduate degree adds to a growing list of marquee programs at CU-ICAR that include:

  • A graduate program that has graduated 791 master’s students and 100 Ph.D. students, with virtually all finding jobs in the automotive industry or academia
  • Deep Orange, a program that gives students a chance to design and build a prototype vehicle, mirroring the experience of working at an original equipment manufacturer or supplier
  • Virtual Prototyping of Autonomy-Enabled Ground Systems (VIPR-GS), an organization that is part of a research partnership aimed at developing innovative virtual prototyping tools to design the next generation of autonomy-enabled, on- and off-road vehicles, with the U.S. government committing up to $100 million
  • AIM for Composites, an Energy Frontier Research Center that is advancing how composite materials are created through artificial intelligence and inverse engineering

Clemson’s new undergraduate program will differ from automotive specialties in traditional departments and automotive. While technology programs concentrate on manufacturing, routine design, construction and end operations, Clemson is going beyond the technical requirements by creating an automotive engineering degree that will focus on advanced design, development and technical management of the vehicle realization process.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, said Clemson’s new undergraduate degree program will help meet workforce needs for the growing automotive industry.

“This multidisciplinary program brings together top talent, cutting-edge facilities and impactful experiences to create the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future,” he said. “By creating the future workforce, the program will help strengthen the automotive industry in South Carolina and the broader Southeastern region. I thank the team that designed the new program and congratulate its members on a job well done.”

National Science Foundation Spearheads New Funding to Improve Diversity in AI Workforce

By Alexandra Kelley, Nextgov

Several federal research bodies are collaborating to launch a new inclusivity program that aims to help bring minority-serving educational institutions into the artificial intelligence field, as more technologies incorporate AI and machine learning software.

The U.S. National Science Foundation, in conjunction with other agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate; U.S Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and National Institute of Standards and Technology, established the ExpandAI program to cultivate a more diverse AI/ML workforce.

“In close collaboration with our federal partners and with the AI Institutes program, NSF Is launching ExpandAI in order to enable an even broader community of researchers to advance the Nation’s AI capacity in scientific power and workforce,” said Margaret Martonosi, the NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, in a statement.

The program, adhering to the guidance outlined in the earlier in the National AI Strategic Plan published in 2019, will direct more federal funding to AI research and development education, specifically within institutions that serve a diverse student population and specify in AI education.

The key feature of ExpandAI is providing federal funding for development projects and partnerships among the participating National AI Research Institutes and incorporating more diverse student teams. Capacity development projects will specifically work to establish new AI education centers within minority serving colleges and universities that do not currently offer AI/ML curriculs and have a large population of African Americans/Black American, Hispanic American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students.

Some of the schools that already offer strong AI/ML education tracks that have partnered with NSF include Ohio State University, the University of California San Diego, Georgia Tech, and Duke University.

“We hope to see a more diverse, more inclusive participation of talented innovators from across our nation, driving AI research and innovation that continues to build our country’s AI leading capabilities and workforce development,” Martonosi said.

Each institution looking to qualify for capacity building funding may receive a grant of up to $400,000 dispersed over the course of two years. By contrast, institutions that already offer advanced AI/ML courses can receive between $300,000 to $700,000 over the course of up to four years.

Some of the previous projects funded by ExpandAI have focused on advancing research in rural health, molecular biology research, environmental science, and industry optimization.

Increasing diversity in the programming workforce behind AI/ML technologies has been a priority area for the Biden administration and various private industry leaders as AI algorithms have proven to discriminate against people of color and other historically vulnerable groups.

GO Virginia Grant to Bolster Next-Generation Transportation, Manufacturing Workforce

By Diane Deffenbaugh, Virginia Tech

A statewide initiative designed to encourage economic growth has awarded the Virginia Tech College of Engineering a grant to advance Southwest Virginia’s manufacturing, transportation, and autonomous vehicles sector by scaling up the talent pipeline to train and retain workers.

The GO Virginia grant, which includes $500,000 in state funding and $251,300 from matching nonstate sources, builds on a Virginia Tech-led coalition of more than 150 public, private, and nonprofit organizations that was one of 60 finalists for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The Automated-Connected-Electrified (ACE) coalition includes a team of higher education and community partners as well as industry leaders such as Volvo, Torc Robotics, and Mack.

John Provo, executive director of the Center for Economic and Community Engagement, which serves as GO Virginia’s regional support organization, lauded this new effort. He said the funding will allow the coalition to move forward with initiatives to help companies grow, build a shared identity for the cluster, and develop a diverse and technically ready workforce.

Pamela VandeVord, associate dean of research and innovation in the College of Engineering and the N. Waldo Harrison Professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, is principal investigator on the grant.

“Through the Industry 4.0 curriculum, we’re teaching students using real-world transportation and air mobility problems,” VandeVord said. “Our goal is to align the resources within Region 2 to help companies find success and talent as well as attract business to the area. In the process, we will elevate the transportation and autonomy sector, which has been identified as a priority sector in Region 2’s Growth and Diversification Plan.”

GO Virginia Region 2 stretches from the New River Valley to the Lynchburg area and north to the Alleghany Highlands. Since 2018, more than $8 million has been awarded to projects in the region, creating more than 700 jobs.

The ACE project will incorporate the findings of a previous GO Virginia planning grant focused on the training needs of Industry 4.0, a term used to describe today’s manufacturing environment that incorporates smart technologies and the internet to better connect and automate the industrial process.

The Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and the Grado Department of Industrial and System Engineering’s Learning Factory partnered on that grant to gather manufacturers, economic development experts, and educators — including ones from community colleges around the region — to gain insights into skills gaps in the workforce, existing training opportunities, and how to best fill any holes.

“The resulting Industry 4.0 curriculum will include hands-on training for in-demand jobs as well as skills necessary to be successful in the competitive and rapidly developing automated transportation system industry,” said Scott Weimer, executive director of Roanoke Regional Initiatives, which includes the Roanoke Center.

John S. Capps, president of Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg, said that this type of collaboration will make all the difference in building a competitive workforce for the region.

“From work-based learning opportunities such as job shadowing and apprenticeships to state-of-the-art classrooms and lab spaces for hands-on practice with cutting-edge technologies, we can build customized workforce training to fill skills gaps across the manufacturing and transportation industries,” Capps said.

The project will also help businesses connect with resources and get customized training from Virginia Tech faculty and state manufacturing extension affiliate GENEDGE. A project technical advisory committee will include experts in education, training, and technical assistance from public agencies, business support nonprofits, and regional community organizations. A “network navigator,” meanwhile, will help companies find the educational and training programs that best fit their needs.

“By providing direct technical assistance and advising to companies through enhanced Industry 4.0 educational programs, this project is expected to create more than 140 jobs in the region with an average salary of $70,436 within five years,” Provo said.

The Center for Economic and Community Engagement, part of Outreach and International Affairs, is an established U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center. It provides research and university connections to help organizations and communities identify and tackle challenges in the urban-rural continuum across the commonwealth.

Nuro’s Summer of STEM — Inspiring the Workforce of the Future

By Nuro Team, Medium

Every summer, millions of students spend their days in a variety of activities and camps. This is a great opportunity for students of all backgrounds to get exposed to and inspired by new concepts, new environments, and new technologies. This year, Nuro launched “Summer of STEM” — an initiative focused on supporting education programs that deliver effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) engagement and education opportunities to learners of all ages and backgrounds.

Nuro employees volunteered hundreds of hours with over 600 students participating — learning about Nuro’s autonomous vehicles, the technology behind our neighborhood delivery services, and the current and future career opportunities at companies like Nuro.

Below, we highlight some of the wonderful programs, with links to learn more. Nuro welcomes inquiries for tours, speakers, or other opportunities to share this innovative technology with students in local communities — contact us at feedback@nuro.ai for more information.

Wilcox High School (Santa Clara, CA) and Wender Weis Foundation Tour with De Anza College

Nuro partnered with the Wender Weis Foundation for Children to host a tour of our Proto-Manufacturing Facilities Facility in Santa Clara for automotive technology students at nearby Wilcox High School. The students got an inside view of the vehicle building process and maintenance of our autonomous fleet, talked with Nuro employees about their roles, and learned about Nuro’s Autonomous, Electric Vehicle Technician Pathway Program with De Anza College — featuring a College-level seminar on automotive technology.

Hydra Hacks hackathon and workshops

Hydra Hacks is “the West Coast’s largest hackathon for marginalized genders.” This year’s hackathon involved a combination of coding/programming workshops and a hackathon competition with over 200 high school and college participants. Sponsored by Nuro, and led by Nuro’s employee resource group (ERG), Women of Nuro, employees volunteered as mentors and judges.

Houston TechConnect Summer Series

The TechConnect Initiative, organized by Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros, brings STEM activities to underserved youth at park community centers in District H. Nuro showcased our autonomous vehicles and sponsored lunch for the participating students. Nuro was able to speak with youth participants on the importance of studying STEM fields.

Hidden Genius Career Career Exploration

The Hidden Genius Project, with programs in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Detroit, “trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.”

As part of their Business Trip series, students from the Hidden Genius Project Intensive Immersion Program visited Nuro HQ to learn about computer science applications and entrepreneurship. In addition to a tour of the office, demonstration of the autonomous technology, and talk from Nuro CTO Andrew Clare, the Geniuses heard from a panel of current Nuro employees who are members of the Black @ Nuro ERG group about their career path and experience.

Mineta Summer Transportation Institute

The Mineta Summer Transportation Institute is a program for Bay Area high school students to learn about transportation careers on-campus at San Jose State University. Nuro provided an inside look into our technology and business with a lecture and demonstration of the R2 autonomous vehicle. Students were then assigned a presentation topic related to a potential launch of Nuro neighborhood delivery services in San Jose. They had to consider, who should we partner with, what could be delivered, and how we can let the community know about this technology.

Bay Area STEM Festival and Technology Showcase

Throughout the year, Nuro participates in a variety of community events in our operating regions. This summer, two Bay Area block party events focused on technology being developed in the region: the Apricot STEM Festival organized by the Los Altos History Museum and Technology Showcase by the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. Youth and community members saw Nuro vehicles and talked to Nuro staff about the autonomous testing and delivery services happening in their neighborhoods. A few school robotics teams even provided demonstrations of their own ‘basketball shooting’ robots built for national FIRST Robotics Competitions.

Self-eSTEM mentoring and summer camp

Based in Oakland, CA, Self-eSTEM “builds the self-esteem of girls and young women from untapped communities, while providing interactive, culturally responsive STEM literacy, leadership, and technical training to leverage STEM as a foundation for social and economic growth.”

This summer, Nuro team members volunteered at Self-eSTEM’s Summer Exploration Camp in Oakland and attended their “Conversations in STEM” panel event to share stories of how they apply STEM education to their work at Nuro. We will host the students for a tour of Nuro HQ and lunch with the Women of Nuro ERG this winter.

Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action Green Careers Bus Tour

Prior to schools starting, the student-led Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action group organized a “Green Careers Bus Tour” of local companies focused on sustainability. Nuro was honored to be included in the group’s events; providing a tour of our offices, sharing best interview practices by our recruiting team, and presentation by Greenwork, a Nuro partner, ​​using their technology platform to connect skilled labor with jobs in green construction and manufacturing industries.

Bay Area Robotics Teams

Some students are already well on their way to careers in STEM, leading some of the top High School robotics teams in the country. Throughout the year, Nuro hosts these students to see and interact with our (slightly larger) robots, and learn about the similar technologies powering our autonomous systems. This summer, students from Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Fremont, Los Gatos, San Jose, and other nearby cities visited the Nuro HQ for demos, pizza night, and exciting discussions on the future of robotics