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Metro Detroit takes lion's share of latest MEDC deals

Metro Detroit is taking more than its share this time around when it comes to business-attracting, job-creating tax incentives.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp announced seven deals earlier this week. Five of those, and one brownfield redevelopment, are in Metro Detroit, representing 1,125 jobs and $24.8 million in investment. The projects are as follows:

- Troy-based ilumisys plans to spend $7.4 million to ramp up its research and development and manufacturing of its LED light technology. The Altair Engineering spin-off expects to create 213 new jobs in Troy after considering sites in China and Ontario. To make this happen, state officials approved a 12-year tax abatement worth $4 million.

- Fiat subsidiary Magneti Marelli Holding USA will consolidate its Michigan operations into one facility in Auburn Hills, an investment worth $4.5 million. The plan is to create 200 new jobs here instead of in competing sites in Tennessee and North Carolina. The state approved $4 million in tax abatements as part of the deal and Auburn Hills is also considering an abatement for the project.

- Colwell & Salmon Communications, which provides inbound and outbound contact services to Fortune 500 companies, is making plans to expand in Livonia. A $1.3 million tax abatement over four years (Livonia is also working on its own tax break for the company) helped the firm give the go ahead to invest $4.9 million to expand its current Livonia call center, a move that is expected to create 502 jobs.

- Livonia wins again now that Quality Metalcraft, an automotive engineering firm, plans to spend $1.7 million to design and manufacture aerodynamic fairings. That should equal 64 new jobs and $455,648 in tax breaks over five years.

- Troy gets another deal now that AxleTech (think axles, brakes, etc.) expects to retain 415 jobs and create 107 new jobs from a $5.4 million investment. The firm plans to consolidate four facilities into one in Troy. The MEDC negotiated a $1 million state tax credit (Troy is working out a $35,404 abatement) to make this happen in Michigan instead of Wisconsin.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Mercedes-Benz Hybrid sets up R&D center in Redford

Mercedes-Benz Hybrid is one step closer to setting up a research-and-development center at the Redford Township facilities of its parent company, Daimler AG, now that local officials have approved a tax exemption for the expansion.

Mercedes-Benz Hybrid plans to create the R&D center at the Detroit Diesel campus, where it will develop and maintain a line of conventional and alternative propulsion powertrain systems. Think hybrid and electric-vehicle systems. Daimler is planning to consolidate a lot of its resources, talent, and expertise at its Detroit Diesel campus.

"We looked at several locations inside and outside of Michigan," says Judy Brunson, operations officer for Mercedes-Benz Hybrid.

The new $2.3 million R&D center is expected to have a staff about 100 people strong, mostly in the engineering and other highly technical fields. Those workers will be responsible for developing conventional and alternative propulsion powertrains and components including EMotors, power electronics, and supporting software technology.

"We're looking to bring a highly skilled technical workforces to southeast Michigan," Brunson says.

Source:
Judy Brunson, operations officer for Mercedes-Benz Hybrid
Writer: Jon Zemke

Center for Professional Studies cranks out new careers for engineers

The Center for Professional Studies used to focus on business training for companies looking to sharpen their performance. Then the economy took a turn for the worse, taking the Center's business with it and forcing the Troy-based firm to change over.

Today the 17-year-old company focuses on training out of work automotive engineers for new careers. The school, which has always been a licensed learning institute, gives these engineers certifications in new fields, mostly in product design or development.

"The jobs they pick up are all design and engineering products that aren't automotive," says Daryl Patrishkoff, CEO of Center for Professional Studies.

Since this summer 59 students have enrolled, with 22 of them already finding new jobs. "We're enrolling new people every week," Patrishkoff says.

The Center's plan is to keep this going for the next year or so until the economy bounces back. Once it does, the plans are to go back to business development education.

Source: Daryl Patrishkoff, CEO of Center for Professional Studies
Writer: Jon Zemke

New DOD contract bolsters Waltonen Engineering's growth

More engineers are coming to Warren these days, and part of that is thanks to Waltonen Engineering.

The Warren-based firm, founded in 1957, recently won a Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract with the United States Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren. That will allow it to bid on more military contracts, giving it more opportunity for growth and hiring within the next five years.

The company has been on a bit of a hiring tear lately. It has beefed up its staff of more than 100 people by 40 percent in the last year and also has a few people at an office in Germany. That growth is expected to continue in a number of sectors as new business warrants it.

Waltonen Engineering has diversified its client portfolio to include projects in the automotive, defense, aerospace, and medical device sectors.

"Our growth has been across all of these areas," says Thomas Laboda, director of business for Waltonen Engineering.

Source: Thomas Laboda, director of business for Waltonen Engineering
Writer: Jon Zemke

Engineering Society of Detroit adds 1,300 new members

Business is good for the Engineering Society of Detroit. The 114-year-old non-profit has watched its membership skyrocket in the last year by over 20 percent.

That means 1,302 new members since last summer, bringing membership to 6,264. It is also retaining 99 percent of its professional members, on top of high retention rates of corporate (86 percent), retired (93 percent) and student (98 percent) members.

One of the big things working for the society is its efforts to retrain members, many of whom have automotive backgrounds, for new economy jobs. ESD has been working with the likes of Michigan Technological University to retrain some of its membership for green economy jobs, like engineering work associated with wind turbines. The society has already held two of these programs so far this year and expects to have at least one more before year-end.

"It all depends on the collaborations we have," says Della Cassia, director of public relations and marketing for the Engineering Society of Detroit.

ESD is works across several industries in the engineering world, including scientific and allied professions. It also works to develop and foster excitement in math and science for future generations.

Source: Della Cassia, director of public relations and marketing for the Engineering Society of Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Lawrence Tech, Oakland U team up for job fair

Lawrence Technological and Oakland universities are showing a little regional cooperation in joining forces for one big job fair on Tuesday, September 22.

The Tech x 2 Expo = OU + LTU job fair will be for college students at the two universities who are majoring in engineering, computer science, and technology disciplines or have recently graduated with degrees in those fields.

"It's a convenience for the employers," says Eric Pope, a spokesman for Lawrence Tech. "Instead of going to two job fairs they can go to one."

Both schools have held a variety of jobs fairs for both students and regular workers this year.

To register, companies should go to and click on the employer icon. Companies already on CareerQuest should visit the Lawrence Tech site and log on to their accounts.

The job fair will be held at Oakland University in Auburn Hills (a map is available here) between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will also be a lunch from 1-2 p.m. Registration for employers starts at 8 a.m. and costs $225.

For information, call Lawrence Tech's Office of Career Services at (248) 204-3140 or the Office of Career Services at Oakland University at (248) 370-3250, or send an email to ltuocs@ltu.edu or ketelsen@oakland.edu.

Source: Eric Pope, spokesman for Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Jon Zemke

BAE Systems' new Sterling Heights facility to create 600 jobs

The ceremonial shovels have gone into the ground for the new BAE Systems campus in Sterling Heights, and the real shovels are expected to begin digging this fall.

The new automotive research and development facility is expected to create 600 new jobs. The center will concentrate on land and armaments projects, such as armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles.

"The expectation is that long term that facility will continue to grow," says Luke Bonner, economic development director for the city of Sterling Heights.

The military-based firm is taking over
the old TRW site, on the 32400 block of Van Dyke between 14 and 15 Mile roads. It is investing $58 million to turn the 81-acre property into its new engineering campus. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved $1.4 million in loans to make the creation of the new tech center possible.

BAE Systems builds the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, the Valanx, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, and a number of other ground vehicles for the U.S. Army.

General Dynamics has traditionally been the main defense contractor in Sterling Heights. However, a number of other defense contractors have set up shop in Sterling Heights in recent years, creating hundreds of engineering jobs in the process.

Source: Luke Bonner, economic development director for the city of Sterling Heights
Writer: Jon Zemke

Giffels-Webster Engineers doubles LEED certified staff

Giffels-Webster Engineers is doubling down on sustainability, doubling the number of its staff with LEED certification.

As of this week, nine of the Rochester Hills-based firm's 65 employees are certified as LEED AP. That basically means when it comes to sustainable design, the firm has nine experts in it.

"We see it as a trend where people want to be green," says Loren Crandall, president of Giffels-Webster Engineers. "We want to be at the front end of that."

The LEED AP exam has been around since 2001. It focuses on green building practices and principles in LEED requirements, resources and processes. This certification is essential to obtaining LEED status on projects.

The 55-year-old firm specializes in civil engineering and surveying. It hasn't hired anyone so far this year, but Crandall expects that to change.

"We're marketing our services aggressively," Crandall says. "We expect to grow."

Source: Loren Crandall, president of Giffels-Webster Engineers
Writer: Jon Zemke


Michigan Tech, Engineering Society of Detroit offer training for auto engineers

Laid off auto engineers worried about being left behind will have a chance to push the envelope in their field soon.

The Engineering Society of Detroit is teaming up with Michigan Technological University and AVL to help the state's automotive engineers learn about hybrid vehicle technology and the electrification of the automobile. It's doing this through a semester-long course to be offered this fall.

"Advanced Propulsion for Hybrid Vehicles with Concentration in Battery Engineering" is a graduate-level, three-credit class starting this fall. The 100 students admitted to the program will focus on battery design and on what makes the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles tick.

For information, contact Linda LaPointe at llapointe@esd.org or by snail mail at The Engineering Society of Detroit, 20700 Civic Center Drive, Suite 450, Southfield, MI 48076.

Source: Engineering Society of Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

ZagataRiley turns performance engineering into jobs

Engineers Mark Zagata and Bill Riley didn't wait for the automotive industry to change their lives. Instead they took the initiative and started ZagataRiley a little more than two years ago.

"The motivation was to go out and try something before something bad happened to you and you weren't prepared," says Mark Zagata, the firm's president.

The Livonia-based start-up specializes in design, engineering, and manufacturing of top-notch parts for motor sports, such as race cars or motorcycles.

"People find us if they have problems that aren't solved by regular engineering," Zagata says.

More people have found the company as a place to work themselves. The company now has five employees, including one recent hire specializing in carbon fiber composites. It moved into its own space and is currently renovating it for future growth.

ZagataRiley has enjoyed "moderate growth," according to Zagata. He expects the business to double or even triple within the next year or two. That could lead to another 2-4 hires; maybe even people looking for a little change from the local automotive industry.

Source: Mark Zagata, president of ZagataRiley
Writer: Jon Zemke

Winning Lawrence Tech students build bridge in 12 minutes

Most people are familiar with steel bridges, but concrete canoes? Both were on display at Lawrence Technological University last weekend as part of its steel bridge construction and concrete canoe racing competition.

The event, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, pitted engineering student teams from universities from the Midwest to create the best steel bridge or fastest concrete canoe. Lawrence Tech won the steel bridge competition, taking first in four of the six categories.

The students had to build a 20-foot long, three-foot wide and 2.5-feet tall bridge that could hold supporting 2,600 pounds. And the bridge must be able to be assembled within 12 minutes. Lawrence Tech's bridge more than fit that bill.

"It's made of aircraft steel, round tubing and square tubing," says Nick Knust, a senior majoring in civil engineering at Lawrence Tech and captain of his school's steel bridge team. "It's really light. It's only 140 pounds."

It won in the stiffness, aesthetics, efficiency and construction speed categories. It now goes onto the national competition in Las Vegas on Memorial Day.

Source: Nick Knust, a senior majoring in civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University and captain of his school's steel bridge team
Writer: Jon Zemke

Lawrence Tech students build prize-winning hydrogen race car

The Big Three aren't the only ones creating hydrogen cars these days. Lawrence Technological University has created its own hydrogen race car, which will be on display at the National Hydrogen Association Conference and Hydro Expo this week.

A team of about a dozen students from Lawrence Tech's transportation design program make up Element One, the team that created the hydrogen car, or kart. It uses a Hydrogenics HyPM8 fuel cell, a hydrogen tank, an electric motor and ultracapacitors for rapid acceleration. It weighs 40 pounds and can hit speeds of up to 60 mph.

"It acceleration is very comparable to a sporty car," says Adrian Snyder, the student team leader of Element One and a senior majoring in mechanical and electrical engineering at Lawrence Tech.

The Lawrence Tech hydrogen car also utilizes a unique carbon-fiber body, which took first place in the design competition and was featured in Popular Science magazine.

"That was one of the largest and hardest challenges," Snyder says. "We could have gone out and got a steel frame but we decided to design our own."

The car will race at the expo before coming home for further testing and display.

Source:
Adrian Snyder, the student team leader of Lawrence Technological University's Element One. Photo provided by Lawrence Technical University.
Writer: Jon Zemke

Patti Engineering goes from 25 to 33 people in 2 years

The partnership behind Patti Engineering is a little stronger than the average business partnership.

Husband-and-wife team Patti and Sam Hoff started the Auburn Hills-based firm in 1991 after Sam left his job and had trouble finding another. One colleague didn't have room for Sam on his business' staff, but offered to use Sam's services if he started his own company.

Almost 20 years later, Sam serves as the president of the firm and Patti as the vice president of finance. They oversee a staff of 33 people, a couple of independent contractors and four co-op students (think interns who are paid). That's up from 25 people two years ago.

In that same time, Patti Engineering has diversified its client list from a mainly automotive base to the waste water, energy, food and distribution industries.

"I think we're looking fairly good for 2009," Sam says.

In this economy, the company is holding its own for this year and the beginning of next. He expects the economy to come back strong late in 2010 and his company to have a few more employees by then.

Source: Sam Hoff, president of Patti Engineering
Writer: Jon Zemke

FEV opens hybrid dev center in Auburn Hills

Electrification of the automobile is providing a jolt for the local Metro Detroit economy. The latest shock of investment is the FEV Group's new Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Development Center in Auburn Hills.

FEV develops advanced powertrain and vehicle technologies. It has been investing in expanding its Auburn Hills campus over the last two years. The latest investment ($8 million) is dedicated to testing the hybrid and electric vehicle parts.

The company has a staff of 300 people at its Auburn Campus. That centralized engineering brain power played a key part in convincing FEV to continue to invest in its new sustainable technology there. The facility will test all sorts of state-of-the-art, electric-based vehicles and is believed to be the home of the first PHEV charging system in Michigan.

FEV is an international powertrain and vehicle engineering company with a staff of more than 1,800 highly skilled specialists at advanced technical centers on three continents.  

Source: FEV Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

W Industries Investing $36 Million in Detroit Expansion

W Industries is investing $36 million in Detroit to retrain its work force and expand its presence in the aerospace, energy and defense markets.

W Industries is owned by Metal and Welding Industries, which is a metal fabrication company that employs 356 people in Michigan. W Industries was developed to focus on defense, aerospace and alternative energy.

To accommodate the new industries, W Industries will renovate one of its facilities in downtown Detroit and purchase a second facility by the second quarter of 2009. W Industries has not announced the location of its new facility. W Industries received a $9.7 million MEGA grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for the project.

"Traditionally we've been an auto company, but this MEGA grant will really allow us to expand into aerospace, energy and other industry market sectors," says F.L. Kimmel with W Industries.

The expansion will allow W Industries to fulfill an existing military contract for military material handling vehicles and add a gantry mill that will allow Metal and Welding Industries to expand into aerospace and alternative energy.

The expansion is expected to create at least 500 jobs over five years. A major component of the expansion is a training program. Kimmel says W Industries will retrain all of its current workers and new hires.

"The new jobs will cover a broad spectrum including skilled and unskilled workers that we will train," Kimmel says.

Source: Chelsea Niemiec, D+P Company
Writer: Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached at Ivy.hughes@gmail.com.

 

 


 

111 Engineering Articles | Page: | Show All
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