YPSILANTI–The Lincoln Consolidated and Ypsilanti Community school districts in Washtenaw County will add a STEM Institute to their educational offerings under an agreement with Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education and Toyota’s Driving Possibilities initiative.
The Toyota program will invest nearly $10 million over the next five years in southeast Michigan, which includes the new STEM Institute. The institute will integrate applied research with outreach and curricula. It will serve as a hub of resources to strengthen the STEM experience in Washtenaw and surrounding communities.
Toyota also announced it would invest nearly $50 million on a new battery laboratory at its North American research and development headquarters in Washtenaw County’s York Township. The new lab will ensure that Toyota’s batteries meet North American customer requirements by confirming performance, quality and durability of automotive batteries made by Toyota. Operations at the new battery lab are expected to begin in 2025.
“This new investment in our North American R&D operation, which has been a key pillar of the Michigan automotive industry for more than 50 years, shows Toyota’s directional shift towards electrification for all,” said Shinichi Yasui, executive vice president of Toyota Motor North America Research and Development. “By adding these critical evaluation capabilities around automotive batteries, our team is positioned to better serve the needs of our customers, including Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, the latter of which will soon be assembling the recently announced all-new, three-row, battery electric SUV.”
Beyond battery development, other lab activities are expected to include evaluations using Level 2 and Level 3 charging as well as connectivity to power sources and infrastructure. Further, chassis dynamometers at both Toyota R&D campuses in York Township and Ann Arbor are being upgraded to accommodate full battery electric vehicle evaluations.
In addition to working with current battery production, lab engineers will explore new battery configurations for future products. Their research may also contribute to Toyota’s development of new electrified vehicle architectures. Toyota will explore further expansion of the lab’s capabilities and opportunities for supporting the needs of the battery and BEV ecosystem.
The new facility will be included in Toyota’s enrollment in DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program. This voluntary renewable energy program enables all of Toyota’s Research and Development operations in Michigan to attribute 100% of its electricity use to renewable energy projects starting in 2026.
The STEM Institute, meanwhile, will serve as a hub to deploy STEM resources to and from the school districts and three institutions of higher learning in the area. In addition to EMU, faculty members from the University of Michigan College of Engineering and Washtenaw Community College will serve as educational and subject matter experts to create new learning opportunities for teachers, students, and families across the community.
An advisory board of community and stakeholder groups will sustain the STEM Institute’s community-centered design beyond the initial five-year commitment. They will focus on addressing emerging needs and community interests as the program grows and evolves.
The proposed general programming to be offered by the STEM Institute includes both classroom curriculum and exposure to STEM in various areas of the industry through field trips, speakers, camps and exploration of career technical education for the next generation of STEM careers.
“Our goal is to increase awareness of future STEM careers while helping build sustainable programs in the communities where our Toyota team members live and work,” said Tellis Bethel, group vice president of social innovation, Toyota. “It’s exciting to see the expansion of Driving Possibilities near our Michigan R&D facilities, the first location announced out of the 14 additional U.S. sites planned.”
Driving Possibilities is designed to be an equitable collaboration with schools, nonprofits and community to help all student succeed – at school and in the careers of the future. The long-term initiative from Toyota focuses on PreK-12 education, building on Toyota’s existing programs across the country. The aim is to close educational gaps for all students through innovative, hands-on STEM programming that leverages unique assets and resources in the equal-partner relationship. Driving Possibilities is designed to help increase STEM awareness, excitement and interest in a promising career in a STEM-related field while addressing the essential needs of students and families.
The initiative is funded by Toyota USA Foundation, Toyota Motor North America, and Toyota Financial Services.
To learn more about Toyota’s $110 million dollar commitment to Driving Possibilities, visit ToyotaEffect.com for the latest information.
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