Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering developing a vehicle manufacturing research alliance for universities and automakers

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – With automotive industries expanding across the South, Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is working with educational and industry partners to consider establishing a research center focused on advanced vehicle manufacturing.

The new Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing would be a National Science Foundation center with industry-driven, multidisciplinary research conducted by university faculty and students.

“We would utilize the expertise and facilities of each university for the benefit of our industry partners,” said John Evans, the Thomas Walter Technology Management Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “They will gain real dollar savings by applying the research into their manufacturing processes.”

Evans and a committee of Auburn engineering faculty are working with colleagues from Tennessee Tech University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville to develop the center and are talking with other Southern research institutions and transportation-related companies as possible participants.

The core research would include manufacturing systems analysis, lean production, safety and ergonomics, advanced manufacturing processes and data analysis. Evans said he has received letters of support from more than 40 automotive and industry-related companies, such as KIA, Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes.

“The research will be industry-driven,” Evans said. “They will decide the areas to be researched and will direct the goals and objectives of the research. The center includes many disciplines in engineering as well as areas in business.”

Auburn is hosting a daylong informational session May 16 for educational and industry representatives to provide input into the proposed center. Presenters include Rick Walker, president of the Georgia Automotive Manufacturers Association; Ron Davis, president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association; and Paul Coker, president of the Alabama Aerospace Industry Association.

Informational sessions have been held already at Tennessee Tech and UAH, and a formal sign-up meeting for companies that plan to join will be held this summer at Auburn’s Huntsville research office.

“We are presenting information and are gathering information from attendees,” Evans said. “This is an opportunity for them to invest in a research program they can mold.”

Students would benefit from the program as well, Evans said.

“Students will get experience with real-world manufacturing problem solving and will be able to work with professors and programs at Auburn and the other schools,” he said. “Their opportunities will expand and they will be excellent fits for joining companies when they graduate.”

More information about the research alliance is available by contacting Evans at evansjl@auburn.edu.

(Written by Charles Martin.)

Contacts: John Evans, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, (334) 844-1418 (evansjl@auburn.edu), or Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (marticd@auburn.edu)