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Deakin University has been selected by Ford Motor Company to design a revolutionary concept vehicle to drive the future of the automotive industry. Deakin is one of five universities worldwide, and the only Australian university, selected to take part in the ‘Creating a Ford Model T for this Century University Challenge’.
The Challenge is to design a simple, practical, light-weight, innovatively sustainable vehicle for the non-traditional consumer that would revolutionise the automotive industry and society in a similar way to the original Model T Ford.
Deakin’s concept proposal will be delivered to Ford in early September. The two concepts that best meet the Challenge criteria will be announced at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Model T on 1 October. The winning teams will each receive a US$25,000 scholarship from Ford Global Technologies.
The Head of Deakin’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, Professor Kate Smith-Miles, said that Deakin’s involvement in the Challenge was a fantastic opportunity for the University. ‘It is a great honour that Ford has selected Deakin to be the only Australian university to be involved in the Model T Challenge,’ Professor Smith-Miles said. ‘Taking part in the Challenge will allow Deakin to showcase the innovation and skills of our Engineering and IT researchers and students to an international audience. ‘Our invitation is recognition of the long standing partnership between Deakin University and Ford, both locally and in the USA via collaborative research and development programs, and also through the provision of undergraduate and postgraduate programs to the employees of Ford Australia.’
The Challenge will be pursued by staff and students from Deakin’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, School of Architecture and Building, and Centre for Materials and Fibre Innovation. The Deakin team will have four months and US$75,000 in funding from Ford Global Technologies to design a revolutionary vehicle that redefines the modern day car through innovation and sustainability.
Dr Bernard Rolfe, the team leader and senior lecturer with Deakin’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, said the vehicle must be simple, lightweight, compelling and practical and be able to be sold for under US$7,000. ‘Rather than being just an engineering challenge, this task will require innovative ideas drawn from a variety of sources throughout the University,’
Dr Rolfe said. ‘Using our cutting edge research at the Centre for Materials and Fibre Innovation (CMFI), as well as drawing on the diverse skill sets throughout the University, we aim to deliver a concept portfolio including a virtual vehicle model and detailed design/proof of concept for the key innovative features of the vehicle. ‘We expect to use the very best that Deakin can show, from the state-of-the-art manufacturing at the CMFI, and the fabulous design spaces at Architecture, to the advanced multi-media lab within Arts.’