Al Lecz (left), Director of the WCC Advanced Transportation Center, describes a prototype vehicle exhibited at this year’s North American International Auto Show. Constructed and assembled with lightweighting materials by WCC faculty and students using the college’s state-of-the-art equipment, the vehicle features examples of transmitters, receivers and sensors needed to communicate autonomously with other connected vehicles and infrastructure. (Photo by Kelly Gampel)



AVP, Marketing & Communications

Washtenaw Community College returned to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) for the second year in a row to highlight opportunities available to people looking for careers in the mobility industry.

WCC was the only community college exhibiting in the auto show’s mobility-focused exposition, dubbed “Automobili-D,” which featured more than 150 exhibitors including automakers, auto suppliers, tech startups, universities and government organizations.

“As the number one community college for anyone interested in working in the industry where information technology meets automotive transportation, what better place is there than the North American International Auto Show to showcase our programs, training and expertise?” asked WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca.

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The centerpiece of WCC’s exhibit was a prototype vehicle that featured vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology including a Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) transmitter/receiver and LiDAR, Light Imaging, Detection and Ranging sensors. While the car was the centerpiece, the real stars of the event were the WCC students and faculty that built and assembled it.

WCC Automotive Services student Emily Hatsigeorgiou (right) talks with visitors to the college’s NAIAS booth, which was part of the Automobili-D exhibit. (Photo by Kelly Gampel)

WCC student Emily Hatsigeorgiou helped staff the WCC exhibit during press preview days and said that the opportunity to interact with faculty and people working in the industry was unique to the college.

“I looked into classes at another community college, and I can say that the attention and support faculty and staff provide students at WCC is unmatched,” she said.

Hatsigeorgiou has already lined up a job at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds when she finishes her degree at the end of this semester.

Hatsigeorgiou said that the experience she gains as a GM test technician will be invaluable for the mechanical engineering degree she plans to pursue.

“Working as a test technician will provide me with valuable insight that I wouldn’t otherwise have as an engineer,” she said.

Hatsigeorgiou, who is currently an intern at GM, was recently recognized by the Cooperative Education and Internship Association as its Intern of the Year.

WCC’s prototype vehicle also featured components fabricated using state-of-the-art equipment from the college’s Advanced Transportation Center. One example is the lightweight components created in the college’s Carbon Fiber Forming Autoclave, which the college purchased through a State of Michigan CCSTEP grant.

“The equipment used to create the lightweight carbon-fiber components on the car is the same as what is now being used in the industry,” said ATC Director Al Lecz. “This hands-on experience gives our students a competitive advantage when seeking employment.”

Automobili-D at the NAIAS was open Jan. 14-21, which included the auto show’s press days, industry preview days, charity preview and the first weekend of the public show.