The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was the center of Henry Ford’s base for natural resources used to manufacture automobiles. From 1919 to 1947, Ford acquired or built six sawmills, three villages, four iron mines and about 600,000 acres of timberland. At that time, wood was a significant material used the the manufacturing of Ford’s vehicles. However, in the early 1950s, other materials were becoming more popular in vehicles and Ford divested much of his holdings in the Upper Peninsula. So in 1954, the Ford Motor Company Fund donated the village of Alberta and 1400 acres of surrounding timberland to Michigan Technological University and is now the Ford Center.
This marked the beginning of a strong long-standing relationship between Michigan Tech and the Ford Motor Company. During the past 60+ years, Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund have contributed over $14.3 million to fund a variety of programs and projects on campus. Just a few of these are highlighted here.
Ford’s main activity with Michigan Tech is recruiting students, led by their investment as a Career Services Gold Partner. The current job market is highly competitive and the Partner Program offers Ford a year-round presence on campus where they can build their brand and attract qualified, promising employees.
Recently the university was named as one of Ford’s 20 Premiere Recruiting Schools globally. This prestigious designation has opened the door for Michigan Tech to participate in Ford programs only available to Premiere Recruiting Schools. One example is the the Ford College Alliance. Annually, this program has provided general undergraduate scholarships, funding for Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) competition vehicle teams, and scholarships for leaders on the sponsored vehicle teams. In addition, one Michigan Tech student was chosen to receive the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship. . Each year, this funding will support the awarding of ten $10,000 scholarships to outstanding sophomore or junior engineering students at Ford’s 20 premiere partner universities around the globe. Michigan Tech, was among the inaugural schools to award this scholarship.
Ford is also focused on increasing the number of women enrolled in science and engineering programs. To encourage young women to pursue engineering education and careers, the past two years Ford has invested in Michigan Tech’s signature youth Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs for girls; Women in Engineering (WIE) and Women in Computer Science (WiCS) summer youth programs. The WIE and WiCS programs, are week-long summer camps for high-achieving young women in grades 9-11. Led by faculty, staff, and graduate students from Michigan Tech and role model speakers from industry, participants spend the week exploring future careers in engineering.
Ford has also supported Michigan Tech’s Enterprise and Senior Capstone programs for many years. These student-driven, multidisciplinary teams work on real-world client projects and many teams design, manufacture, and test their own prototypes. Ford has regularly supported the SAE vehicle teams (Blizzard Baja, Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Formula Car, and Supermileage Systems). Other supported teams are IT Oxygen Enterprise (Information systems and IT solutions) and the Wireless Communications Enterprise (Wireless, optical, renewable energy and biomedical technology).
Research at Michigan Tech spans a vast range of expertise and over the years talented faculty have been awarded nearly $4.7M in research funding. Automotive research projects included ignition and combustion studies, materials research, and biomaterials initiatives to name a few. Several projects have been funded through Ford’s competitive University Research Program where Michigan Tech faculty work very closely with a Ford colleague on the project.
Michigan Tech is proud of over 700 alumni working at Ford across the globe. Each summer alumni employees and student interns gather for a pasty picnic in Dearborn, MI to hear updates from the university and hear about the activities alumni are involved in with Michigan Tech.
Ford’s engagement with Michigan Tech helps the university to realize its vision through quality education, research, and innovation. Michigan Tech has valued this partnership and looks forward to continuing the long standing partnership for decades to come.