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Chrysler, Fiat and universities in Canada and Italy create international automotive engineering degree program

by Bill Cawthon on

Francesco Profumo, Rector of Politecnico di Torino (Italy), and Alan Wildeman, President of the University of Windsor, today signed a collaborative agreement at a ceremony also attended by one of the University of Windsor’s most noteworthy graduates, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler Group LLC.

The first of its kind joint degree agreement will see graduate students from the University of Windsor and Politecnico Di Torino participate in a two-year program working on cutting-edge research and development projects with Chrysler and Fiat.

University of Windsor students will spend their first year in Windsor, where they will study four streams of engineering knowledge – vehicle, virtual simulation and powertrain engineering, as well as manufacturing process management. The second year will be spent in Turin, where they will complete a thesis on a research and development project determined by Fiat, the student and an academic advisor. Italian students will spend their first year at their home university and a second year at Chrysler’s Automotive Research and Development Center in Windsor.

Upon completion of study, students will have earned both a Masters of Engineering degree from the University of Windsor and a Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to a Masters degree) from Politecnico Di Torino.

The objective of the program is to offer participants a complete, international education that addresses the challenges and new strategies in the auto industry and the requirements of the automotive engineering profession. Students completing the program will have solid professional training, linguistic proficiency and the practical experience necessary to work in a competitive global environment.

This is the first post-graduate degree program in the world based on collaboration between two prestigious universities and two automakers on two different continents. The objective is to offer an academic experience of the highest international standard and, at the same time, provide students with an opportunity for cultural and personal growth.

Chrysler and Fiat will support research projects, provide space, research tools, equipment, and the personnel needed to supervise the work of five top graduate students from each university. Students will be selected by a committee on the basis of academic qualifications and suitability for the program, which is expected to be offered beginning in September, 2011.

University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman says the University of Windsor is committed to doing its part to engage in shaping the future of automotive engineering.

“This reciprocal agreement with Politecnico Di Torino will challenge our students to take their expertise out into the world, work at an international level and broaden their horizons. Our engineering graduates have invaluable skills to share and we are honoured to have them invited to contribute to the future success of Chrysler and Fiat. This partnership builds on the University of Windsor’s long history of innovation for Canada’s manufacturing sector.”

“We are particularly proud of the result because the agreements involve four partners that share the same vision with respect to the educational profiles of the new generation of automotive engineers,” commented Francesco Profumo, Rector of Politecnico di Torino. “Both our students and the Canadian students will get a special plus in their education that is not only in the scientific and technological context of the courses, but also in the experience of a year in another country, that will give them personal knowledge of a different culture, way of life and social organization.”

“The initiative we are celebrating today”, commented Fiat and Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, “was conceived through a singular and rather fortunate crossing of paths: the relationships developed over the years between Fiat and Politecnico di Torino and between Chrysler and the University of Windsor. Until now, each one of our organizations has followed a separate path but those paths had the same starting point, which was the understanding that – in a world of rapid and continual change – we have an obligation to give our young people both the technical and cultural tools necessary for their education. The University of Windsor and Politecnico di Torino have much in common. Not only are they among the most prestigious technical and scientific academic institutions in their respective countries, they are, even more importantly, organizations that have demonstrated an open mentality and created a vital and creative environment for education and learning.”

Marchionne received a Bachelors of Commerce degree from the University of Windsor in 1979 and a Masters of Business Administration in 1985.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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