engineering

Education
4:42 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Steelcase plans to donate huge, pyramid-shaped building for new STEM education hub

drtel Creative Commons

Grand Rapids-based furniture maker Steelcase plans to donate its iconic pyramid-shaped building to a nonprofit group.

Steelcase spent more than $100 million to build the more than 600,000 square-foot building in 1989. It’s been for sale for a lot less, around $20 million, for a couple of years. But it hasn't sold.

Steelcase spokeswoman Laura VanSlyke says the company talked to a few potential buyers, but the size and unique shape “does make it difficult for certain companies to take it over.”

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Education
11:04 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Michigan-Flint engineering enrollment grows

The Flint Journal reports that engineering enrollment has doubled since 2008 at U of M-Flint.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan-Flint is responding to a growth in its engineering program by investing in high-tech equipment for the students.

The Flint Journal reports that engineering enrollment has doubled since 2008 and now stands at 320 students. To meet the demand, the school has acquired a $75,000 microscope that magnifies objects 60,000 times and expects to get a $100,000 three-dimensional printer. The department also is hiring two new professors.

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Business
6:00 am
Tue February 11, 2014

High stakes for Michigan's pilot apprenticeship program

An engineer works with a student apprentice at Toyota.
Toyota UK Flickr

Tracy Samilton's report on apprenticeships in Michigan.

Michigan imports a lot of things from Germany, from craft beer to high-tech appliances.

Now, the state's trying to import Germany's highly successful apprentice system.

The hope is that employer-paid apprenticeships could address two problems: high-skilled jobs that go unfilled – and four-year college degrees that are becoming unaffordable.

One such program is already underway, teaching students how to manage automated assembly lines.

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Auto
7:21 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

New GM CEO hopes to inspire science students

Mary Barra
Credit gm.com

The incoming CEO of General Motors hopes her appointment as the first woman to lead a global automaker will inspire young women and men to pursue careers in science.

Mary Barra's first appearance before reporters since getting the job eclipsed the rollout of the GMC Canyon small pickup truck.

Barra unveiled the truck and was immediately surrounded by hundreds of journalists Sunday at an old industrial site in Detroit.

She hopes her background as an electrical engineer encourages young people into studying science, technology, engineering or math.

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Environment & Science
1:06 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Michigan Stadium is hosting a hackathon this weekend

Participants in last year's hackathon present their invention. Last year's competition was on North Campus. This year, hackers will compete in The Big House.
Credit Michigan Engineering / Flickr

Michigan Stadium will be full of college students this weekend. But these students aren't watching a football game -- they're hackers.

A University of Michigan group called MHacks is sponsoring a 36-hour hackathon. It's a competition that challenges participants to use technology to create inventions that solve modern problems.

Thomas Erdmann is a junior at Michigan and the president of MHacks. He says the word hacking gets a bad rap. Erdmann says the hackathon represents what the word hacking really means to engineers.

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Stateside
5:29 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

The line between innovation, technology, and moral standards

Dr. Cynthia Finelli
engin.umich.edu

An interview with Dr. Cynthia Finelli.

Engineering and technology touch our lives every minute of every day. As we move into this 21st Century, technology is progressing at rates that are faster than most anyone could have imagined.

But as engineers design this new technology, what's happening at the intersection of "technology" and "ethics?” And what's the price we pay when engineers overlook that "moral compass?"

These are questions Dr. Cynthia Finelli is focused on as she helps train the engineers of the future.

Dr. Cynthia Finelli is the director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering and she's a research associate professor at the University of Michigan.

And she's part of a team called E3, which stands for "Exploring Ethical Decision-Making in Engineering," a group of engineering teachers from many colleges and universities. These teachers study engineering ethics.

Dr. Cynthia Finelli joined us in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:59 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

On today's show, we found out why baby boomers seem to be key for the auto industry.

And, the author of the new book, "The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device" joined us to take a look at the history of individual flight.

Also, we took a look into the ethics of technology and engineering with the help of Dr. Cynthia Finelli.

First on the show, one of the cities that has been in the headlines of late is Hamtramck.

Governor Snyder has declared that the 2.1 square mile city within Detroit is under a financial emergency and could come under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

But facing tough financial times is nothing new for Hamtramck. And, starting from its beginning as a home for Polish immigrants, the city continues to be one of the most diverse communities in the state.

We wanted to find out more about the unique history of Hamtramck, so we turn to someone who was born in Hamtramck. His family’s roots in the city go back to when his grandfather first arrived.

Greg Kowalski is chairman of the Hamtramck Historical Commission and he joined us today in the studio.

Politics & Culture
4:51 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A state-appointed review team found the small city of Hamtramck is once again in a state of financial emergency. Will the city succumb to state control again?

And nearby in Detroit, one prominent observer has growing doubts about the effectiveness of the city's emergency manager.

And, a new film documentary explores the different ways Michigan families have transformed deep loss into opportunities to grow.

Also, Tom Ivacko joined us to discuss how local leaders would like citizen to get involved with government.

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The Environment Report
9:58 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Michigan inventors compete in college clean tech venture challenge

Two of the guys behind SkySpecs, Tom Brady (l) and Ryan Moore (r), explain their autonomous flying robot.
Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

You can listen to today's Environment Report above or read the story below.

I recently got a chance to hang out with Tom Brady.  

Nope, not the football star. 

But this Tom Brady is working on making a name for himself. Brady just wrapped up his Masters degree. He’s an aerospace engineer, and now he's also the chief financial officer of SkySpecs LLC.

He holds up something that looks half-insect/half-helicopter. It’s an autonomous flying robot. In other words... it has a mind of its own. Brady says it finds its way around with cameras and computer vision.

“Basically, what these things are: they carry sensors to places that an inspector would otherwise have to,” he says.

Say, down into a sewer or up to the top of a wind turbine.

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Auto/Economy
12:32 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

More jobs than job seekers, automakers seek qualified people

An electric vehicle engineer at Ford.
Ford Motor Co.

After laying-off tens of thousands of employees in 2009, automakers and engineering firms are racing to fill new positions.

Paul Eisenstein writes on The Detroit Bureau that at a recent career fair, job openings weren't in short supply - job seekers were.

Or more precisely, qualified job-seekers.

Eisenstein writes "the real rush is to find trained engineers."

two years ago, Altair Engineering...“had plenty of applications and no jobs.”  A few months ago, they put out the word that “they had 700 engineering slots and no one to fill them.”

This explanation is offered as to why there's a dearth of applicants.

Part of the problem is that the industry now needs to attract a largely new workforce at a time when engineering schools are struggling to fill slots and turn out fresh talent.

The bulk of the engineering employees released by the struggling Detroit makers over the last five years were older workers nearing the end of their careers.  They were often given buyouts that helped nudge them into a less painful retirement.  “And now...they just aren’t interested in coming back.”

And even if older engineers did apply for these jobs, one expert says their skill set might be out of date because changes in technology are happening so quickly.

This shortage of engineering talent is driving up costs for employers - bad for employers, but good for potential employees.

One group is working to change this. David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research has started "Building American's Tomorrow," a non-profit group working to attract young people to the engineering field.

Bryce Hoffman of the Detroit News writes the group is working to improve the image of engineering to young people who "have a dim view of manufacturing and the auto industry in particular."

Building America's Tomorrow grew out of the industry's efforts during the recent economic crisis to educate Washington about the economic importance of the auto sector.

"It's really an outgrowth of all the chaos in the auto industry," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of CAR and one of the founders of the organization. "Everyone was worried about whether we would survive. We did, but now we're not sure where we're going find the talent we need to stay in business."

It's a long term problem. And Cole says "if we don't do something about it, we're going to lose a core part of our economy."

Detroit Auto Show
1:07 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Honda revives NS-X sportscar, will build it in Ohio

The concept Acura NS-X.
Micki Maynard/Changing Gears

Honda made history in 1990 when it introduced the high powered Acura NS-X sports car. But it discontinued it in 2005 to focus on more fuel efficient models.

Now, NS-X is coming back. And instead of Japan, where it built the original car, it will build it in Ohio.

Honda made the announcement this afternoon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It showed a concept version of the NS-X unveiled by its CEO, Takanobu Ito.

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Education
3:16 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

University of Michigan to offer entrepreneurship masters degree

The University of Michigan will offer a year-long masters degree in entrepreneurship starting fall 2012. The joint program between the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business aims to combine the wealth of technological ideas with business expertise.

David Munson is the College of Engineering dean at the University of Michigan. He believes the partnership is the first of its kind.

"The uniqueness really stems from the quality on both sides and bringing that quality together to try to produce what we hope will be the best program of its kind in the country," Munson said.

Munson expects many engineering students to enroll in the entrepreneurship program after they graduate. Entrepreneurship will likely have a place in each department at the university in coming years.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Auto/Economy
12:10 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Automakers face engineer shortage

The auto industry is looking for more engineers.
Michael Gil wikimedia commons

Last year, many automakers brought in profits and announced that they would open up new factories and add new jobs.

But the industry is adding new jobs at a time when qualified candidates are hard to come by.

David Shepardson wrote about the shortage in the Detroit News today:

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Economy
5:46 pm
Mon February 28, 2011

Engineers in Grand Rapids will design control systems for new U.S. Air Force tank fleet

Boeing NewGen Tanker refuels the Boeing family of 737-based air battle management systems. (Boeing photo illustration)
Boeing

The Air Force announced last week it picked Boeing over rival Airbus to build 179 new planes that refuel other planes while flying. GE Aviation Systems in Grand Rapids will design and build computerized mission control systems for the planes – known as tankers.

GE Aviation Systems General Manager George Kiefer says the contract is a great opportunity for engineers at his company.

“Typically, you’ll end up with – during your career – two or three or four new aircraft programs like this, if you’re lucky.”

Kiefer says the Grand Rapids location will be able to maintain 100 engineering positions thanks to the contract. Over time he says the company will create another 50 jobs. Those new jobs will be spread amongst the group’s facilities in Grand Rapids, Florida and the United Kingdom.

Education
5:55 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Fellowship to send math and science teachers to high-need classrooms

(Left to right) Godfrey Lee Superintendent David Britten, GVSU President Tom Haas, and GRPS Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. sign the agreement Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Valley State University signed an agreement Monday that will help put more science and math teachers in high-risk classrooms.

The agreement is part of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program. Six universities in Michigan are participating in the program.

It offers 40 recent grads $30,000 to get their teaching degrees and spend 3 years in high need, urban middle and high school classrooms.

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