TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An experienced leader in the automotive industry and entrepreneur will direct the Alabama Mobility and Power Center at The University of Alabama.
Michael Oatridge will join UA Aug. 1 as AMP executive director. AMP was recently established in partnership with Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. as a research and workforce development center to meet the needs of the emerging electric vehicle market.
Oatridge worked for Honda Motor Company for more than 30 years, retiring in 2021 as senior vice president of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. Most recently, he has been president and owner of Strategic Workforce Solutions, a startup company in Birmingham that helps recruit businesses to the state.
“With Mike on board to lead AMP, this initiative can fully begin its mission to improve our state’s position on the cutting edge of electric vehicles while strengthening the University’s research and education,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development. “We are fortunate to find such a quality person to lead this partnership with Alabama Power and Mercedes.”
AMP envisions to be a premier 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.
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 is organized under the Alabama Transportation Institute at UA and will be housed in the recently approved Smart Communities and Innovation Building.
“Mike is a proven leader with a passion for workforce development,” said Jeff Peoples, Alabama Power executive vice president of customer and employee services. “We are looking forward to continuing to partner with AMP to solve challenges and identify growth opportunities for the automotive industry in our state.”
Chip Fuqua, chief of staff, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc., said, “We are delighted to welcome Mike to this essential role within the AMP Center. Mike’s vast experience in the automotive industry and his enthusiasm for building consensus among stakeholders will play a pivotal role in the success of AMP and, in turn, the economic growth of our state.”
A strategic leader with extensive automotive knowledge including new product development, manufacturing and supply chain optimization, Oatridge has been able to successfully sustain high performance across an organization by use of internal resources and a broad network of contacts in both the public and private sectors.
“Mike’s industry experience brings a clarity of vision and deep knowledge to help direct activities that will assist the electrical vehicle and infrastructure sector in Alabama and guide our mission to graduate students that immediately provide innovative problem solvers to the state’s workforce,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, executive director of the Alabama Transportation Institute.
Oatridge joined Honda in 1989 as an engineer, taking on increasing responsibilities at its manufacturing plant in Ontario, Canada. His tenure included an assignment at company headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, as well as a manufacturing plant in Ohio.
He came to the plant in Lincoln, Alabama, in 2001 and became vice president of manufacturing operations in 2010, a position he held until 2016 when he was promoted to senior vice president. In this position for five years, Oatridge directed day-to-day operations of a staff of over 6,000 employees, while ensuring the production of over 350,000 vehicles. He was responsible for company operations of more than $1.2 billion annually.
After retiring, Oatridge founded Strategic Workforce Solutions, developing public and private partnerships to secure more than $3 million in funding to develop ALEX, the Alabama Experience, an immersive and interactive way to learn about living and working in the state used at the World Games in Birmingham this summer.
He has been an executive board member of the Alabama Workforce Committee, Economic Partnership of Alabama and the Birmingham Business Alliance, and he has served as chair of the boards for the Japanese American Society of Alabama and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
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.