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July 14, 2004

U-M secures $40 million government research contract    

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The U-M College of Engineering has secured a $40 million Army research contract over five years to continue funding the U-M led Automotive Research Center (ARC). The amount is the largest research contract in UM’s College of Engineering history.

The ARC is the most advanced university-based automotive research center in the country, said Dennis Assanis, ARC director and chair of the mechanical engineering department. Securing another round of funding was critical to advance research on both commercial and military ground vehicles. The continuing success and growth of the center validates the concept of establishing a collaborative environment to address multi-disciplinary research issues in the automotive area, Assanis said.

The funding will also continue to attract automotive industry research to U-M and its partners in the ARC. Its research program will address key transportation energy issues, critical to both the military and Michigan’s auto industry, said James MacBain, director of engineering research relations at the U-M.

The ARC is an eight-university consortium housed at U-M, and sponsored by the National Automotive Center at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich. This is the third, five-year funding cycle for the center. In addition to U-M, the consortium includes University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin, Wayne State University, University of Alaska (Fairbanks), Clemson University, University of Tennessee and Oakland University.

The ARC is an excellent example of collaboration between academia, government, and industry that benefits both the civilian and military community, said Dennis Wend, executive director of the National Automotive Center.

The ARC covers a broad spectrum of automotive topics that impact vehicle propulsion, advanced structures, control strategies for optimal energy usage and safety, optimal design, mobility of vehicles and robotics, and human centered design.   The work aims at dramatically reducing fuel consumption, a critical military and civilian issue, while maintaining or improving mobility, handling and safety.   Research teams are organized in five thrust areas:

Dynamics and control of vehicles and mobile robots. Scientists develop tools to evaluate if a vehicle can cross a certain terrain and strategies controlling when to use which power source in a hybrid engine for optimal fuel economy.  

Human centered modeling and simulation. Researchers design the interfaces of the vehicle to fit the operators, and evaluate the impact of driving off-road.

High performance structures and materials. Developing structures and materials that are lighter and stronger.

Advanced and hybrid power trains. Making more powerful, efficient and cleaner diesel engines and alternative power sources.

Vehicle system integration, optimization and robustness. Scientists evaluate uncertainty in inputs to the system simulations and the effect on design objectives.

As part of this new contract, the ARC has been awarded funding that will support an alternative energy/power research activity. The breadth of current research in the ARC and already-established collaborative links make it uniquely positioned to address complex interdisciplinary issues related to energy options and to propose solutions for improved mobility and clean and affordable power for the future.

ARC website: http://arc.engin.umich.edu/

Contact: Laura Bailey
Phone: 734-647-7087 or (734) 647-1848
E-mail: baileylm@umich.edu