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Florida Tech Announces New Florida Center for Automotive Research

10/21/2011

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Diminishing fossil fuel reserves and projected increased gasoline prices create major challenges for the automotive industry. Stepping up to the need for highly fuel-efficient vehicles, Florida Institute of Technology has established the Florida Center for Automotive Research (FCAR) with industry partner, Rivian Automotive, based in nearby Rockledge, Fla. Plans are underway to develop and produce a new line of vehicles, leveraging the university’s engineering research capability.

The FCAR aims to develop an automotive engineering program, with both a research and educational component. FCAR will support Rivian to develop an affordable 90-mpg vehicle with a diesel-electric powertrain and a 60-mpg vehicle with a gasoline powertrain. Both vehicles will be four-passenger cars with highly-reduced carbon emissions. Rivian’s experienced team has already begun development, with the goal for commercial production to begin in 2013; by 2015 Rivian Automotive targets the creation of as many as 1,200 new jobs in Central Florida.

“Providing automotive education and research are key to building a foundation for a strong industry here in Florida. We’re excited to be a part of this initiative,” says Rivian Founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe.

The new research center will offer academic research capability, as well as undergraduate and graduate student training, to support ultra-high-efficiency vehicle production. The FCAR will also provide solutions to the challenging technical problems encountered in design and manufacturing, and seek to attract other automotive supplier/OEM (original equipment manufacturer) operations to Florida.

“Florida Tech’s capabilities fit ideally with the strengths and experience of Rivian. The need for what we offer together is now. The timing of this joint enterprise couldn’t be better,” said Fred Ham, College of Engineering dean.

FCAR goals seek to:

    Create new jobs in Central Florida for professionals such as engineers, technicians, researchers and fabricators Enhance senior design and graduate projects in automotive engineering in partnership with Rivian Automotive Develop a new automotive engineering curriculum at the graduate level Procure funding for research and teaching equipment

The Florida Tech Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department in the College of Engineering is currently conducting a nationwide search to fill a senior faculty position. This professional is expected to lead the development of the FCAR program. Pei-feng Hsu, MAE, department head, currently serves as FCAR interim director.

For more information, contact Pei-feng Hsu at (321) 674-8092 or at phsu@fit.edu.

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