Executives from General Motors Corporation, General Motors Research and General Motors Canada visited campus this week to learn more about innovation at the University of Waterloo - a leader in North America for advanced automotive research.

Corporately, GM is looking to build on their long-established research partnership with Waterloo and expand activity on campus in lightweighting, powertrain, connectivity and infotainment. Waterloo has the largest group of automotive researchers at any university in Canada. The multinational auto giant has been collaborating with Waterloo since the early 1960s and is currently involved with several projects including vehicle controls, structure, software and communications.

Vice President Ken Kelzer and Executive Director Brandon Vivian examine vehicle modifications

(left to right) General Motors corporate Vice President Ken Kelzer and Executive Director Brandon Vivian examine vehicle modifications made by University of Waterloo’s alternative fuels team (UWAFT) with team lead Patrick Ellsworth.

Engineering researchers and students at Waterloo are driving innovation in other areas including everything from electric cars to alternative fuels; new materials and improved safety. The Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) promotes these research competencies and engages industry for 125 professors across all six Faculties as well as 30 staff engineers and more than 260 graduate students.

The GM team toured Waterloo Engineering’s automotive-related research facilities including the:

  • 3D Print Centre
  • Center for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS)
  • Embedded Software Laboratory
  • Student Design Centre
  • Metal Forming and Impact Laboratory
  • Mechatronics Vehicles Laboratory

They also met with the Alternative Fuels student team, UWAFT, who have competed in U.S.-based GM-sponsored competitions for 18 years. As well, the GM delegation stopped in at the Tatham Centre to see co-operative education in action. General Motors is an active co-op employer for Waterloo students, as well as recruiting graduates from campus into full-time positions in the U.S., China and Canada.

GM visited the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, viewing the nanotechnology fabrication lab and looking at an atom through an electron microscope. In the afternoon, the GM team toured both the Velocity Garage and the Virtual Reality cave at the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener.