GM Joins Stanford Auto Research Center

Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of Global Product Development, called it "a natural fit" for the automaker.

General Motors announced May 17 that it is joining the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, calling the move "its latest effort to mine the best and brightest ideas and recruit top students studying toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of Global Product Development, confirmed the membership after a visit to the Stanford School of Engineering, where she spoke to faculty, students, and researchers. "Joining the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford is a natural fit for GM," Barra said, according to a GM news release. "In order to create the world's best vehicles, we make every effort to remain on the cutting edge of automotive development. Our membership in CARS will allow us both to expand and share our knowledge with students, faculty, and industry partners as we work together to move the industry forward."

The Center for Automotive Research at Stanford taps a range of disciplines to develop ideas for the next generation of cars and drivers. It provides shared resources for research, teaching, student project teams, and new educational initiatives from several research centers, including the law and business schools. One of the center's leaders is Clifford Nass, the Thomas M. Storke Professor at Stanford University, who directs the Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) Lab, which is focused on automobile interfaces, mobile interfaces, human-robot interaction, and the cognitive effects of multitasking, among other areas. Nass discussed multitasking on May 10 with NPR's Ira Flatow, saying the idea that human beings can be excellent multitaskers is false. "People who multitask all the time can't filter out irrelevancy. They can't manage a working memory. They're chronically distracted," he said, according to the NPR transcript of the conversation. "They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand. And even -- they're even terrible at multitasking. When we ask them to multitask, they're actually worse at it. So they're pretty much mental wrecks."

"GM is dedicated to helping develop the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals and advancing the industry,” said Barra, described in the release as one of many GM leaders with a Stanford degree. "The Center for Automotive Research at Stanford offers us not only the chance to contribute to the education of future leaders, but also cultivate new and creative vehicle technology solutions."

The university is one of GM's key engineering and business recruitment institutions, according to the release.

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