TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A proposal led by The University of Alabama to strengthen the Deep South’s role in production and support of electric vehicles was selected by the National Science Foundation to be developed further.
The $1 million planning grant from the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program positions UA and its partners, the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University, to compete alongside 44 other teams for up to $160 million over 10 years in the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions.
The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.
The UA-led project envisions an innovative supply chain ecosystem where stakeholders from across the EV supply chain can confidently and effectively participate in activities that advance transportation electrification — purchasing electric vehicles, increasing grid capacity, increasing charging capability and establishing and growing domestic industry around materials extraction, recycling, and supply chain component and system manufacturing.
As automakers bring more electric vehicles into production, add more computational power and continue to integrate automation, the entire transportation ecosystem must change to meet new demands. The partnership behind this proposal can work together with the auto manufacturers, the energy industry and transportation sector to add value to the supply chain from training a skilled workforce to equipping infrastructure to sustain EVs for consumers.
“Transportation is undergoing one of the biggest changes since the invention of the gas-powered car and the conversion away from horse and buggy,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, incoming interim vice president for research and economic development and executive director of the Alabama Transportation Institute.
“We have an opportunity to capture some of the economic growth associated with these changes by equipping our states for success,” Parrish said. “This initiative would involve our students in leading-edge research and development, immersing them in the entrepreneurial spirit of these changes while growing the sector so they can graduate into careers here in Alabama and our region.”
The UA-led project is one of 44 awardees that span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development Awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystems within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines.
“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”
The Alabama Mobility and Power Center, under ATI, will spearhead the planning and, if awarded the full NSF Engines Development Award, replicate its model of gathering a critical mass of faculty and staff experts to conduct research and support both private and government investment on new battery technologies and workforce development across the tri-state area.
To learn more about the Mississippi Alabama Georgia Network for Electric Vehicle Technologies, or MAGNET Engine, visit its website at magnet.ua.edu.
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.
Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, 205-348-4328, email@example.com