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February 12, 2014

Purdue, Chrysler forge partnership

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University and automaker Chrysler Group are partnering in a program that will share research and development efforts and provide learning opportunities for Purdue students and Chrysler Group employees.

The agreement establishes seven initial Purdue research projects with $1.2 million in funding from Chrysler Group. The projects are designed to enhance the company's manufacturing processes. Also being developed are internship and co-op programs for Purdue students at Chrysler Group facilities in Kokomo and worldwide, and distance-education programs for the company's global employees.

"Turning Purdue's research and teaching into more and better jobs is the purest form of the land-grant duty to be actively engaged with our state and its economy," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "We are excited about the new Chrysler relationship and see it as a prototype for many such partnerships to come."

"The partnership between Chrysler Group and Purdue is a win-win for everyone," said Brian Harlow, Chrysler Group vice president and head of NAFTA powertrain operations and global head of powertrain manufacturing engineering. "Not only will we benefit from having access to a top engineering and research university, but we also will be able to give students real-life work experiences and develop the skills that companies like Chrysler will need in the future. This partnership demonstrates what is possible when education and industry come together."

Work on the Purdue-Chrysler partnership began almost two years ago, said Suresh Garimella, Purdue's chief global affairs officer. The partnership is an outgrowth of discussions that began during meetings of the Indiana Automotive Council. The council is part of Conexus Indiana, an organization devoted to growing the state's advanced manufacturing and logistics industries.

"Collaboration between industry and higher education is critical to growing Indiana's automotive industry," said Matt Conrad, Indiana Automotive Council director. "This partnership is representative of the teamwork needed to move Indiana forward. I applaud Chrysler and Purdue."

Talks involved Purdue's colleges of Engineering and Technology and personnel at Chrysler Group's Kokomo facilities.

In addition, faculty from the colleges of Science, Agriculture and Liberal Arts and the Krannert School of Management have participated.

Projects will expand to include Chrysler Group's new facility in Tipton as well as the Kokomo and Tipton communities. Purdue landscape architecture students already have done work on several plants, and interior design students will do indoor projects. Purdue students also are expected to complete service-learning programs with Kokomo high school students.

"This partnership is both broad in the range of projects and deep in the geographic spread of programs," Garimella said. "We're excited to see where this effort takes us."

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Sources:  Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Suresh Garimella, 765-494-9095, sureshg@purdue.edu

Brian Harlow, bdh3@chrysler.com