High school students will put their design and engineering skills to the test by competing with their customized connected, autonomous and electric vehicles at the 11th annual Square One Innovative Vehicle Design (IVD) Mobility Challenge, taking place on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. These innovative vehicles will hit the pavement at Mcity, a vehicle testing and proving ground in Ann Arbor.

Square One’s IVD Mobility Challenge encourages students from 40 Michigan schools to creatively integrate the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts they learned throughout a year-long, hands-on program into one tangible project. With a fixed budget, a kit of basic materials, a deadline and a list of requirements, student teams have worked for months to design and construct vehicles that solve many of today’s mobility challenges. Students participating in this grand finale event put their problem-solving skills and teamwork to use for a high-energy, real-world learning opportunity. Square One provides grants and/or vehicle kits to schools throughout Mich. to make dynamic, hands-on learning accessible to every student in the state regardless of district funding.

The event at Mcity will include several exciting competitions: a high-speed performance contest employing RC vehicles for mini IVD teams; a full-scale IVD challenge, where students transform a gas-powered go-kart kit into an electric vehicle; and an autonomous challenge, in which students demonstrate the ability of toddler-sized jeep vehicles to navigate a specific course and avoid obstacles based on programming and sensor technologies within a “driverless” configuration; and a V2X challenge utilizing 3D printed robotic vehicles demonstrating connectivity. Projects are intended to emphasize innovation, teamwork and problem solving, and provide exposure to the growing demand for talent in STEM fields.

“The talent and real-world problem solving skills that students employ through these challenges are testament both to Square One’s effective IVD program and inspirational educators,” said Barb Land, Square One operations director. “The goal of each of our programs is to provide real-world, student-led learning opportunities, and we are thrilled to see engaged, motivated students and teachers driven to deliver creative, pavement-ready vehicles. This event truly amplifies our confidence in Michigan’s next generation of automotive engineers.”

Mcity, located on 32 acres at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex, is the world’s first full-scale urban setting designed specifically to replicate the performance and safety of connected, automated and driverless vehicles under controlled, realistic road conditions. The site serves as an ‘outdoor laboratory’ for advanced mobility systems, and simulates the wide-ranging complexities that vehicles confront in suburban and urban settings.

This year, Square One has partnered with several prominent industry organizations to support the IVD Mobility Challenge. For the second consecutive year, Brose, the world’s fifth-largest, family-owned automotive supplier, will present the Brose Mechatronics Award to the members of the team presenting the solution that best embodies a clever combination of mechanical and electrical/electronic solutions to reach its goal. The company also will award four $500 Brose-NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) scholarships to participants that day.

“As an advocate for STEM education and industry collaboration, Brose is proud to support organizations like Square One that are dedicated to fueling the next generation of automotive engineering talent”, says Mike Brosseau, President, Brose North America. “By exposing young students to hands-on learning opportunities like the Innovative Vehicle Design Mobility Challenge, we are engaging students in STEM education and inspiring them to pursue career opportunities within the automotive industry.”

In addition to Brose, this year’s IVD Challenge is possible due to continual support from partners and sponsors, including Planet M, Ford Motor Company STEM Fund, Nissan, P3, Eaton Corporation, TATA Technologies, The Piston Group, Washtenaw Community College, Community Telecommunications Network, Eisbrenner Public Relations, Harris Battery, Larry’s RC, Good Sense Media, Absopure and Autoliv.

On Saturday, May 6, students will be on site at Mcity at 9 a.m. for the IVD Challenge, and the competition will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an award ceremony commencing at 5 p.m. The event is open to the public at no charge, and the Bearclaw food truck will be on site for purchasing refreshments. Company leaders looking to connect and engage with the next generation of automotive talent are encouraged to attend and engage with Square One’s network of students, teachers and corporate partners. To learn more about the IVD Challenge or the Square One Education Network, visit

The Square One Education Network empowers teachers with a complete set of resources for students to engage, using hands-on learning tools and modern learning fundamentals, with the intent of developing skills needed to become the next generation technical workforce. This year, Square One will invest $350,000 toward school grants, professional development workshops for teachers, and Innovative Vehicle Design (IVD) Performance Challenge programs. Its work will reach 11,000 students and 250 teachers. For more information, please visit

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