The Drive to Learn
By Kevin Hodur | Published
While innovation in technology inexorably rolls on, some students from Michigan Tech
recently had the chance to roll on the latest technology. The whole idea was to see
for themselves how the principles learned in the classroom are actually making cars
better and safer.
Students from Tech's Advanced Motorsports Enterprise experienced the latest in automotive technologies at Continental Automotive System's Brimley Development Center in Sault Ste. Marie. Student Ride & Drive, in its second year, brought university students from as far away as Georgia to this state-of-the-art facility.
"Imagine pushing a Dodge Charger Hemi with electronic stability/traction control to its absolute limits," said Richard Berkey, Industry projects manager at Tech's Enterprise program, explaining the benefits of the systems designed by Continental. "Or a five-series BMW with adaptive cruise control. We experienced 'City Safety' in a Volvo XC SUV. The Volvo can react on its own to apply the brakes and avoid the collision. Insurance companies provide premium discounts for cars with this system; it works that well."
"These types of focused events are great for both Michigan Tech and the sponsoring company," said Ken Daining of Continental, who earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tech. "Events like the Ride & Drive at our Brimley Development Center help market Continental to Michigan Tech, strengthen the relationship between our organizations and ultimately provide students opportunities to build a future with Continental."
By exposing students to the latest in automotive technology, students are better able to understand how problem-solving and teamwork result in better, safer products.
Ben Hohnstadt, a fourth-year electrical engineering major from Shelby Township, explained: "the engineers gave us an overview on how the technologies worked," while at the Brimley facility, "and then let us test them out. Seeing the work that real engineers do on a daily basis got me much more interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry than I was before the trip."
Dave Deisenroth, a mechanical engineering major from Munising, added, "Continental Ride and Drive was designed to introduce students to the technology Continental supplies for global auto companies and to make them want to work there--and did it ever."
This event highlights the value of collaboration between industry and the University for Tech students. "The best part was getting to see how some of the things we do in the classroom apply to real world scenarios," Hohnstadt added. "Things I learned in physics, circuits and electronics all came into play."
As automotive innovation rolls on, Berkey notes that it will be students like Hohnstadt and Deisenroth who wheel out new ideas.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.