A strong partnership between The University of Alabama, Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. fuels a newly-formed research and workforce development center designed to meet the needs of the booming electric vehicle market.
The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama recently approved forming the Alabama Mobility and Power Center to be a world-class research and development hub for creating and sustaining modern mobility and power technologies, developing charging infrastructure and managing power delivery to support large-scale growth in electric vehicles.
“This partnership in the areas of mobility and power technologies is a chance for the talented researchers at the University to support prominent industries in our state while growing opportunities for our students to apply their skills here after graduation,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “We are grateful for how both these companies support the University’s mission.”
There is a substantial automotive industry ecosystem within the state with a corresponding commitment to electrification. Alabama is third in the nation for auto exports, with $7.5 billion in Alabama-made vehicles and parts exported in 2018. MBUSI is undergoing a $1 billion expansion to support electric vehicle production, and other auto manufacturers in the state are embracing this technology, as well.
“Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to go all electric by the end of the decade, where market conditions allow and we are moving swiftly toward an emissions-free and software-driven future,” said Michael Goebel, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. “Our location here in Alabama is among the Mercedes-Benz locations on three continents that next year will build electric vehicles and highly efficient battery systems. Our partnership with the University of Alabama and Alabama Power through the AMP Center is a collaboration that will help position Alabama to be a leader in electric vehicle innovation.”
A critical mass of faculty and staff experts will be built at UA to support both private and government investment on new battery technologies and secure an efficient infrastructure to charge electric vehicles. The AMP Center will be organized under the Alabama Transportation Institute at UA and housed in the recently approved Smart Communities and Innovation Building.
“High-quality jobs are the key to helping Alabamians live better lives, and this targeted research center, focused on solving challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities facing our state’s automotive industry, is essential to driving our state’s economic growth,” said Tony Smoke, senior vice president for marketing and economic development for Alabama Power.
MBUSI and Alabama Power are each supporting the AMP Center with in-kind support as well as personnel support and employee consultation to enhance projects.
The partnership will benefit students through expanded mentoring, intern and career possibilities while providing opportunities for these students to participate in world-class research that is on the cutting edge of industry. These activities will lead to the development of the mobility and power workforce and create future leaders in the electrification of the transportation network.
“This partnership will be a nationwide leader in mobility and powered research that aims to tackle relevant challenges faced by industry and infuse a highly skilled and educated workforce into the state as a boost to Alabama’s economy,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development.
Four themes of the AMP Center at UA include:
- Preparing the electric vehicle workforce
- Driving collaborations between industry and UA
- Creating innovations in battery manufacturing and use
- Developing effective and sustainable vehicle charge infrastructure
Partnerships will be developed between UA and other auto manufacturers in the state that could benefit from the expertise and workforce developed at UA. As part of the agreement, UA will establish a national training center for students, state and local officials, and the electric vehicle workforce.
“Alabama has the potential to be among the nation’s leaders in transportation electrification – if we have adequate skilled workforce and a commitment to leadership in electric vehicle and supporting power grid technologies,” said Dan Blakley, associate vice president for economic and business engagement. “The AMP provides a great opportunity for a strong coalition of partners to address innovation, workforce development and commercialization in mobility and power research.”
For more details about Alabama Mobility and Power Center, visit Amp.ua.edu.
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The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.