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Kickstart: Ferris State University and a 'once-in-a-century' project
Ferris State University's plastics program may be in just the right place at the right time to play a big part in developing future electric vehicles.
Earlier this month, Gotion Inc., a California-based subsidiary of a Chinese EV company, announced it would build a massive electric vehicle battery plant near Big Rapids, Mich., the small town that is home to Ferris.
The $2.4 billion project is set to employ 2,350 people. Big Rapids has a population of about 8,000, meaning that the plant would become a very big employer, very quickly.
Rachel Watson, a reporter for our sister publication Crain's Detroit Business, writes that some are questioning if the town is up to the challenge of staffing such a large endeavor, but Ferris State University President Bill Pink saluted it as a "once-in-a-century" collaborative project.
"Ferris ... has advanced knowledge and program maturity in key applied knowledge areas like welding engineering of exotic materials, plastics engineering and injection mold design, metrology labs and quality engineering," Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Bobby Fleischman said in a news release. "Leveraging this capability for advanced battery production education and research ... is forward thinking and economical to produce the workforce the battery industry needs."
We've all had a lot on our collective plates the past few years: pandemic, supply chain shortages, storms, the Ukraine invasion, energy worries and, of course, inflation.
It would be nice to think that at some point, it'll all calm down. But in a Q&A in advance of K 2022 with our sister paper Sustainable Plastics, Stefan Engleder, CEO at machinery company Engel Group, says he's not expecting calm waters ahead.
"Crises will become the new normal," he said. "We have prepared ourselves for these challenges."
Yes, that's "crises" as in the plural of crisis.
The best response to all of this turmoil when it comes to business, he said, is to be a company that is a "reliable, stable partner" even in difficult times.
The automotive division of the Society of Plastics Engineers is out with its finalists for the Automotive Innovation Awards, set to be handed out early next month.
An interesting trend to spot in this list is the number of new products related to electric vehicles. Since the SPE awards are open only for vehicles currently in production, there are a lot of new parts that have been in development for years, just waiting for the industry to start putting them on the road.
Now that those EVs are here, so are projects like quieter air conditioning systems, illuminated front grilles, composite seat structures, composite leaf springs, upgrades to headlights and a range of technology engineers have been developing for at least a decade.
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