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Emphasizing the importance of advanced materials in automotive design, the National Science Foundation this month awarded a Michigan community college $200,000 for lightweight vehicle manufacturing education.

The money awarded May 10 will pay for Washtenaw Community College curriculum related to making bodies-in-white and other auto parts out of lighter, stronger materials. The grant also will fund the addition of lightweighting as a consideration into a regional (Great Lakes) auto design challenge.

“Through our conversations with business leaders in the automotive industry, we understand the imminent needs for employees equipped with skills in the area of lightweight materials,” WCC President Rose B. Bellanca said in a statement last week. “This NSF grant will allow us to create curricula and professional development programs to create a model for other community colleges to follow. We are very proud of this opportunity.”

Perhaps body shops, which to do proper repairs must keep versed on the “gigapascal”-level steel, aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium automakers are introducing, can audit the courses. Or raid them for prospective body technicians.

The grant will pay for three years of work and include collaborations with Wayne State University and automotive design challenge organizer Square One.

Read more: NSF gives Mich. Washtenaw Community College $200K to foster automotive lightweighting jobs 

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