$4 Million GM Gifts To Build Labs, Auto Proving Grounds At Kettering U

FLINT — Gifts totaling $4 million — $2 million from the General Motors Foundation and $2 million from General Motors Co. — will result in a new automotive proving ground and laboratories at Kettering University’s Flint campus.

The $2 million gift from the GM Foundation will enable Kettering to construct the General Motors Foundation Automotive Research Area, an automotive proving ground. It will be built on a 19-acre parcel of land at the corner of Chevrolet Avenue and Bluff Street, the former site of a GM Chevrolet plant.

The $2 million gift from GM will allow Kettering to build a new powertrain lab in the C.S. Mott Science and Engineering building.

Kettering officials say the proving ground will create new hands-on learning opportunities for students, and give the university new potential to attract industry partners for research projects. The lab, meanwhile, will include new equipment and offer further hands-on learning.

An equipment donation from General Motors earlier this year will provide machinery for both the powertrain lab and the machine shop in Kettering’s FIRST Robotics Community Center.

Kettering president Robert McMahan said the proving ground “will also serve as a model for creative redevelopment of brownfields and industrial land nationwide and a great symbol of the continued turnaround in the city of Flint.”

The GM Foundation Automotive Research Area will provide opportunities for many academic departments to enhance teaching, learning and research opportunities. Included are vehicle testing and crash safety in mechanical engineering; autonomous vehicle and GPS research and instruction in computer science and computer engineering; hybrid electric vehicle research and instruction in electrical and mechanical engineering; and opportunities for faculty and students in life science disciplines to study soil and environmental impact at the site. There will also be opportunities for student SAE teams to test vehicles they build for competitions, including their formula race car, Baja dune buggy and clean snowmobile.

The GM Foundation Automotive Research Area will also connect to a Flint city project, “Chevy Commons,” on the former Chevrolet plant site. The project, which began this spring, will convert the property into parkland, with natural areas and trails.

“As people travel campus from the new I-69 corridor from Hammerberg Road, passing the newly opened Powers Catholic High School and new Michigan School for the Deaf buildings approaching Kettering, the first sight they’ll see is an incredible vehicle testing and research facility,” McMahan said. “The support from the General Motors Foundation and General Motors is fitting because their history is so closely aligned with Kettering University’s legacy as the former General Motors Institute. These projects will ensure that legacy endures and flourishes while helping produce some of the finest engineers in the industry.”

A rendering of what the GM Foundation Automotive Research Area at Kettering University could look like. Kettering University photo.
A rendering of what the GM Foundation Automotive Research Area at Kettering University could look like. Kettering University photo.

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