The President’s Symposium held at Lawrence Technological University on Sept. 22 provided insights into the rapid development of new technologies in the transportation sector that will have a dramatic effect on how we get from one place to another in the coming years.
The panel discussion was moderated by Lawrence Tech alumnus Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The panelists were:
• Chuck Gulash, director of the Collaborative Safety Research Center of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc.
• J. Gary Smyth, executive director of the North American Science Labs, Global Research and Development of General Motors Company.
• Michael Ford, CEO of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan.
• Jay Baron, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research.
• Douglas Patton, executive vice president for engineering and chief technical officer for DENSO International America, Inc.
The speakers discussed the great progress that is being made on improving the user experience in cars, using lightweight materials in building cars, and developing automobiles that can drive themselves. Technology is being developed to make it possible for a car and its driver to communicate with other cars, the highway and even pedestrians.
It was pointed out that Michigan remains the center of the American auto industry where most of the research and development is being conducted. It has been predicted that the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has for the past 50 to 100 years.
The panelists discussed the enormous changes that are taking place right now. Many more innovations are on the way.
LTU President Virinder Moudgil founded the annual symposium in 2012 to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to major challenges facing the Metro Detroit region.
“The big challenge of the next few decades will be to find ways to harness technology to deal with the various challenges facing our society. Transportation is one of the top priorities, especially here in Michigan,” Moudgil said.