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Nov. 10, 2020

MSU hosts Mobility Forum featuring industry experts, state officials

Michigan State University will assemble mobility experts from industry, government and its academic colleges and units to host an automotive industry virtual forum, “Accelerating the first/last mile for autonomous mobility,” at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 19.

The webcast
will explore the role Michigan industry, government and academia have in propelling innovation for the first/last mile of mobility, with a specific focus on infrastructure and autonomy. It will kick off with a special message from Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and an overview of Michigan's recent mobility progress from Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer for the state of Michigan.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., will join the inaugural MSU Mobility Forum and serve as moderator of a panel of industry experts, which include: Jon Coleman, director of City Solutions at Ford Motor Co.; Paul Thomas, executive vice president for Bosch in North America; and David Gorsich, chief scientist of the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center.

Viewers can plan to hear:

  • How each respective company — and the industry as a whole — are addressing the future of an autonomous first/last mile.
  • Efforts to help solidify Michigan's position as the true leader in mobility.
  • Considerations of infrastructure and multiple modes of transportation, with an emphasis on functionality, economic and environmental efficacy and user experience.
  • Vehicle and infrastructure technologies for first/last mile applications.
  • Processes for a successful first/last mile ecosystem, including interface and payment options.
  • Following the discussion, panel members will take questions.

MSU Mobility faculty will provide an overview of the ongoing mobility activities on campus, recent collaborations and the latest on pioneering research initiatives. Faculty members presenting include Satish Udpa, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering and recent appointee to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification; Douglas Gage, interim vice president, Office of Research and Innovation; and John Verboncoeur, associate dean for research and graduate studies, College of Engineering.

“MSU is largely focused on identifying and uncovering groundbreaking solutions that will enable safe, reliable, convenient and accessible means of transporting people and goods — specifically in terms of the first and last mile,” Udpa said. “We’re looking forward to fostering a conversation that will surely uncover mobility synergies, challenges, solutions and opportunities in this space.”

With a focus on becoming a premier ecosystem for research and development of technologies that drive the future of human-centric multimodal mobility of the 21st century, the MSU team plans to host several MSU Mobility Forums throughout 2021 and beyond. Future forums will include additional guest speakers, panel discussions, deep dives into industry issues and timely announcements.

To register for the first MSU Mobility Forum, visit

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting David Bertram, associate vice president of government relations for MSU, at by noon on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

About MSU Mobility

MSU has transformed its 5,300-acre campus into a live, connected ecosystem to advance smart-vehicle technology and better understand the human element. With a range of urban, suburban, industrial and rural zones, featuring nearly 60 lane miles of roads, MSU’s controlled infrastructure and active campus make it ideal to test emerging technologies for new mobility solutions.

Spartan Mobility Village is home to MSU’s mobility labs where roadways and parking lots can be closed for testing of new technologies. In the future, unoccupied buildings will be used as a background for sensing technologies, including radar clutter simulating the suburban and urban environment.

To learn more about mobility at MSU and the university’s ecosystem approach, visit


By: Caroline Brooks

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