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Lawrence Tech highlights industry partnerships at Detroit Auto Show

Release Date: January 11, 2012

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Student projects commissioned by automotive manufacturers are on display at Lawrence Technological University’s exhibit at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.

With support and encouragement from the automotive industry, in 2007 Lawrence Tech created a unique Bachelor of Science in Transportation Design program that emphasizes the importance of engineering factors in automotive design. The director is Keith Nagara, a former Ford designer who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Lawrence Tech students are trained on computer programs used by professionals in the industry. The university’s Auto Show exhibit features video presentations about software from Dassault Systemes and Inteva Products that students are using.

Nagara has designed the degree program to simulate an industry studio environment. Blending their creative talent with an understanding of engineering and manufacturing technology, Lawrence Tech students design projects with feasibility of manufacturing in mind.

“There is a technology influence that makes Lawrence Tech’s program unique. These students think holistically, go beyond styling, and take manufacturing into account in their designs,” said Adjunct Professor Brian Baker.

The automotive industry has responded by asking student teams at Lawrence Tech to come up with designs for automobile models and other products under consideration for the future. These projects give students unique opportunities to “test drive” their educations in real-world situations.

Some of those design projects will be on display at the Lawrence Tech exhibit located on Cobo Hall’s main concourse near the congress Street entrance, along with the 2011 competition vehicle built by the university’s Formula SAE team. Lawrence Tech’s Formula Hybrid competitive vehicle is on display at the DENSO exhibit.

The centerpiece of the Lawrence Tech exhibit is a quarter-scale model of an electric Lincoln Continental concept car for 2025 designed by students Colin Bonathan and Jeeho Cha. The sleek, classic body cuts through the air efficiently, with streamlined wheel housings, active wheels, and grill to balance aerodynamic and cooling needs. The roomy interior provides fully reclining Alcantara seats, stainless steel inlayed mahogany console and floor, and a bonsai tree. Interactive OLED displays overlay the mahogany console and roof glass.

Other displays at the Lawrence Tech exhibit include:

Visteon Spectrum Concept
Vince Kaptur and Steve Valente

Designed for the Generation-X family demographic, the Visteon Spectrum blends design and technology into a connectivity-driven interior concept. Based upon real-life customer testing, the interior design solution emphasizes a sense of “togetherness” and family atmosphere, avoiding the driver-focused layouts of some interior designs. The design features an organic and unified screen interface for the driver and front passenger, and rear-seat “infotainment” interfaces.

Visteon Nexus Concept
Tyler Bame and Nawar Karana

This vehicle interior is designed for a ride-share scenario promoting connectivity among the users of a taxi or carpool system. The vehicle connects to the users/drivers’ profiles on a “Ride Share Network” to preload their favorite presets and features before they step into the car.

Navistar Concept
Greg Duler

This truck is designed for a 2030 European market in which individual truck owners would bid on delivery jobs. To help lower fuel and maintenance costs, the operator would use crates of different sizes. These unique features, along with refreshed International brand DNA, create a modern and efficient design that pushes the boundaries for the trucking industry.

2025 Jeep Cross Concept
Kyle Robie

The Jeep Cross was designed for a Jeep fleet of a guided touring service in Brazil. It is a versatile, environmentally friendly all-terrain vehicle sure to appeal to eco-tourists. Driven by a hydroelectric powertrain, the motorcycle’s electric motor acts as a compressor for a hydraulic pump that distributes fluid through a turbine system to drive the wheels. The design also includes a drive-by-wire, hub-centric steering system; suspension height adjustment system; watertight storage compartment in the rear; interchangeable battery pack; and high-intensity LED lights throughout.

Jeep Unlimited Concept
Jeeho Cha

Designed to meet the needs of lifeguards at beaches, the Jeep Unlimited integrates the form and function of a boat and a car. Benchmarked with amphibious vehicles on the market today that achieve water speeds of over 70 mph, the Jeep Unlimited has a hull shape that exponentially reduces drag to allow for speed-boat functionality. Expelling air from tanks located in the car would make it easy to lower the vehicle into the water quickly.  

Chrysler Imperial Wheel Concept
Colin Bonathan

Designed for the SMDI Steel Wheel Competition in partnership with Michelin, this wheel utilizes high-strength steel and advanced manufacturing techniques. A thinner gauge of steel reduces the wheel’s weight but also creates an added challenge in creating enough strength. This is addressed by forming the face of the wheel from a cylindrical rather than flat blank. By folding the sides of the cylinder toward the center, draw depth is reduced and the dimensionality of the wheel is increased.

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student groups and NAIA varsity sports.

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Caption for “continental.concept.LTU”:

Lawrence Tech transportation design students Jeeho Cha (L) and Colin Bonathan have designed a Lincoln Continental concept car for 2025. A quarter-scale model is on display at the Lawrence Tech exhibit at the North American International Auto Show.