Officials from Kettering University, General Motors and the city of Flint had a "ground-building" ceremony for Kettering University's GM Mobility Research Center on April 28.

$4 million from General Motors Company will fund new outdoor, indoor lab spaces at Kettering University

The proving ground will create new hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for students, it will enhance faculty research opportunities and it will offer the University new potential to attract industry partners.

Gifts totaling $4 million -- $2 million from the General Motors Foundation and $2 million from General Motors Company – will allow Kettering University to create dynamic new outdoor and indoor lab spaces to continue providing a world class education to the next generation of engineers, scientists and industry leaders.

The $2 million gift from the GM Foundation will enable Kettering to construct the Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center, an automotive proving ground on a piece of campus that is of historical significance to GM as the former site of the Chevrolet Division, or ‘Chevy in the Hole.’ The proving ground will be built on a 19-acre parcel of land at the corner of Chevrolet Avenue and Bluff Street.

The proving ground will create new hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for students, it will enhance faculty research opportunities and it will offer the University new potential to attract industry partners to conduct product research, development and testing at the facility.

The $2 million gift from General Motors Company will allow Kettering to construct a new powertrain lab in the C.S. Mott Science and Engineering building. The GM Advanced Powertrain Research Lab will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and enhanced hands-on learning opportunities that supplement what they are learning in their classroom and co-op employment experiences.

An equipment donation from General Motors earlier this year will provide machinery for both the powertrain lab and the machine shop in Kettering’s FIRST Robotics Community Center.

“We are grateful for the support of the GM Foundation and General Motors,” said Kettering University President Robert McMahan. “These facilities will provide unparalleled educational opportunities for our students. Our new proving ground, in particular, will also serve as a model for creative redevelopment of brownfields and industrial land nationwide and a great symbol of the continued turnaround in the city of Flint.” 

Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center will help answer the growing need in the auto industry for versatile engineers trained across a variety of disciplines. The facility will provide opportunities for many academic departments to enhance teaching, learning and research opportunities, including vehicle testing and crash safety in Mechanical Engineering, autonomous vehicle and GPS research and instruction in Computer Science and Computer Engineering and hybrid electric vehicle research and instruction in Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and even opportunities for faculty and students in life science disciplines like Biology to study soil and environmental impact at the site. There will also be opportunities for student Society of Automotive Engineers teams to test vehicles they build for competitions, including their formula race car, Baja dune buggy and clean snowmobile.

A rendering of what Kettering University's GM Mobility Research Center could look like.

“The General Motors Foundation is committed to supporting the education of the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Vivian Pickard, president of the General Motors Foundation. “This facility is an example of our commitment to that mission as well as to Flint’s bright future. This proving ground will productively redevelop land that was a critical part of our company’s heritage into a facility that will help ensure the future workforce will be prepared and educated in one of the most unique and innovative facilities in the country.”

Both facilities will be utilized to educate the nation’s finest engineers to fulfill global workforce needs for automotive and other industries. They will also enhance Kettering University’s rich tradition of excellence in educating the nation’s finest automotive and motorsports engineers.

“General Motors has a long and proud history of supporting students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Gerald Johnson ’85, General Motors vice president for operational excellence and Kettering University’s Key Executive. “These investments represent GM’s commitment to not only educating the next generation’s workforce with the latest technology, but also our commitment to the continued revitalization of the city of Flint and surrounding area.”

Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center will also connect to a major city of Flint project on the southern portion of the Chevy in the Hole property called ‘Chevy Commons.’ The project, which began this spring, will convert the property into mixed-use nature, trail and parkland. Kettering University’s recently unveiled Campus Master Plan also complements the Chevy Commons project, creating a green, vibrant gateway.

“As people travel campus from the new I-69 corridor from Hammerberg Road, passing the newly opened Powers Catholic High School and new Michigan School for the Deaf buildings approaching Kettering, the first sight they’ll see is an incredible vehicle testing and research facility,” McMahan said. “The support from the General Motors Foundation and General Motors is fitting because their history is so closely aligned with Kettering University’s legacy as the former General Motors Institute. These projects will ensure that legacy endures and flourishes while helping produce some of the finest engineers in the industry.”


Written By Patrick Hayes | Contact: Patrick Hayes - phayes@kettering.edu - (810) 762-9639