Abstract design

Beyond the Traffic Signs, and Outside the Yellow Lines

Snow. Combat. Offline. Hacked. Human Error. 

At Michigan Tech, we excel in unstructured environments. 

Mobility is the movement of people, goods, and information. 

There are many real-world scenarios where mobility is needed. Interdisciplinary teams at Michigan Tech tackle research challenges in the air, on land, and even underwater.

Unstructured environments are the gray zones of mobility. It's where chaos enters the picture. Michigan Tech is in a remote, snowy region in the Upper Peninsula—our community regularly has to make sense of chaos and a lack of structure, and to some extent, that carries over into our research.

Military tank
Unexpected Danger.


As a key research area that spans civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and cognitive science, mobility needs more than traditional paths to move the field forward. Whether under water, above traffic, by rail, or on the road, Michigan Tech takes autonomy to the ends of the Earth.

Backwoods trail
Uncharted Territory.

AutoDrive Challenge

Paving the way on the ground, Michigan Tech is one of eight universities selected to participate in a new collegiate competition—AutoDrive Challenge—hosted by GM and SAE International.

In the challenge, students from the Robotics Systems Enterprise design, build, and test a fully autonomous vehicle. They will start with a Chevy Bolt and outfit it with sensors, control systems, and computer processors to successfully navigate an urban driving course in automated driving mode. And they have three years to make it happen—plenty of time to master the winter driving courses at the Keweenaw Research Center. Next door, the Advanced Power Systems Lab develops and tests ground vehicles, ready for top performance—sun or snow. 

Car driving in snow storm
Unpredictable Weather.

Testing and Proving Grounds

The Keweenaw Research Center maintains more than 900 acres of proving grounds, including many miles of prepared test tracks. Ride and handling loops, a circular track, an ice rink, a snow-packed area, and a rugged off-road obstacle course all provide the backdrop for research in vehicle mobility.

Preview image for Ram Trucks Torture Testing: Extreme Cold video

Ram Trucks Torture Testing: Extreme Cold

Welcome to Houghton, MI—home to subzero temperatures and a regular snowfall averaging 260 inches per year.

Preview image for Michelin Winter Tires vs. All Season Handling with Jim Cantore video

Michelin Winter Tires vs. All Season Handling with Jim Cantore

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore visits Michigan Tech's Keweenaw Research Center in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to test winter tire handling against all-season tire handling with Michelin.

Innovation Shore

Besides teaching autonomous vehicles to drive in a blizzard, mobility work in the Keweenaw gets another cold weather benefit. Arctic research is expensive; a quick dive into Lake Superior is a solid first test for projects slated for polar waters.

Inside the Great Lakes Research Center, researchers work together along Michigan Tech's Innovation Shore. Our research vessels launch right from campus on the Keweenaw Waterway, just miles away from Lake Superior.

Preview image for Underwater Acoustics video

Underwater Acoustics

Node by node, engineer Zhaohui Wang has a plan for improving underwater acoustics networks to maximize information delivery.

Preview image for Underwater Robots video

Underwater Robots

Inspired by nature, mechanical engineer Nina Mahmoudian is getting underwater robots to move together.

Connect With Us

Brent Burns

Brent Burns

  • Director of Federal and Industry Relations


  • Leads the activities of the Industry Relations team through the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement
  • Directs strategies for greater engagement and support between industry partners and University stakeholders
Jim Desrochers

Jim Desrochers

  • Associate Director of Industry Relations


  • Solicit and secure partnerships and funding with corporate employers of Michigan Tech students
  • Initiate and maintain relationships with corporate representatives on behalf of Industry Relations
  • Collaborate with University administrators in the stewardship of corporate gift programs and proposals
Katie Buehner

Katie Buehner

  • Assistant Director of Industry Relations


  • Enhance and expand engagement of industry on campus
  • Initiate and maintain relationships with corporate representatives on behalf of Industry Relations
  • Build deep relationships and connect University priorities with the interests of corporations

Mobility at Michigan Tech