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Ford to broaden research ties with local unis

Developing: Ford may be ceasing production in 2016 but the R&D department is set to grow.

New Ford manager in place to boost university R&D programs, despite factory closures

Ford logo16 Aug 2013


FORD has announced plans to expand its collaboration with Australian universities on research projects and has appointed its first Manager of University Programs.

Ford Australia technical engineer Richard Taube will take up the newly created role, which was outlined at the company’s multi-million-dollar ‘Go Further’ event in Sydney this week as part of its “Australian business transformation”.

As well as presenting key new global imported models, Ford used the event to highlight its ongoing commitment to research and development in Australia and attempt to smooth the path as it prepares to shut down its manufacturing operations here in 2016, putting around 1200 employees out of work.

Ford Motor Company president of Asia-Pacific, David Schoch, said Ford already had alliances with several universities including the Australian National University, Deakin University and the University of Melbourne, and intended to expand its collaboration further in the years ahead.

Current programs involve powertrain research and impacts on greenhouse gases, the application of lightweight materials, and advanced safety technology in vehicles.

“Today we have five major Ford-funded university research projects, working in key areas of innovation, and we plan to expand our collaboration further,” said Mr Schoch.

“That is why I am very pleased to announce today the appointment for Ford Australia’s first dedicated Manager of University Programs.

“Richard Taube will work with his colleagues around the world to create a world-class system of external alliances and practices not only here in Australia but throughout Asia-Pacific and around the Ford world.”

Mr Schoch also highlighted that “we believe such collaborations are a way for Ford to give back to our Australian community”.

Mr Taube is a mechanical engineer and has worked in the Australian automotive industry since 1994. He studied at University of Melbourne for his Bachelors Degree (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering , and went on to complete an industry-based Masters Degree with the ANU and Ford in 1997.

His postgraduate research was in the field of Sheetmetal Stampings Optimisation and, since 1999, he has worked in body-in-white structures design, development and testing of the Ford Territory, Falcon and Ranger.

In his new role, Mr Taube will report to Ford’s US-based chief technical officer and vice-president of research and innovation, Paul Mascarenas.

“The announcement of a dedicated University Programs manager will not only allow us to build on existing partnerships, but enable us to develop new partnerships,” Mr Mascarenas said.

Avoiding all references to its forthcoming factory closures, Ford also used Mr Taube’s appointment to highlight how the universities program was “a great opportunity for both talented young students and manufacturing in Australia”.

“Australia already has a strong focus on industry relevant research and development as part of auto manufacturing,” Mr Taube said.

“These university programs will also assist Australia in focusing on education opportunities that link in with R&D.”

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