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General Motors Co. and the General Motors Foundation Tuesday each announced $2 million gifts to Kettering University in Flint for lab spaces and a proving ground aimed to enhance students’ education.

The Detroit automaker said the $2 million donation from the GM Foundation will allow Kettering to build the General Motors Foundation Automotive Research Area, an automotive proving ground built on 19 acres on the former site of GM’s Chevrolet division called “Chevy in the Hole.”

GM’s donation of $2 million will create a new powertrain lab, the GM Advanced Powertrain Research Lab, in Kettering’s C.S. Mott Science and Engineering building. The lab will provide hands-on learning to aid classroom and co-op employment education. GM donated equipment earlier this year for the powertrain lab and a machine shop in Kettering’s FIRST Robotics Community Center.

“We are grateful for the support of the GM Foundation and General Motors,” Kettering University President Robert McMahan said in a statement. “These facilities will provide unparalleled educational opportunities for our students. The automotive proving ground, in particular, will also serve as a model for creative redevelopment of brownfields and industrial land nationwide and a great symbol of the continued turnaround in the city of Flint.”

Kettering says the proving ground also will boost faculty research opportunities and may help Kettering attract possible partners to use the track for research, development and testing. GM and Kettering see the research area as a way to help educate engineers across multiple specialties, which is needed in the auto industry today. The site will allow for vehicle testing and crash safety for mechanical engineering, autonomous vehicle and GPS research in computer science and computer engineering, hybrid electric vehicle research for electrical engineering and mechanical engineering and for the student Society of Automotive Engineers teams to test vehicles they build for competitions, Kettering and GM said.

Many GM employees, executives and engineers graduated from Kettering, including CEO Mary Barra. She previously served on the Kettering board. The university was formerly known as the General Motors Institute and the company has long supported the university, including with financial donations.

“General Motors has a long and proud history of supporting students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s vice president for operational excellence and GM’s key executive for Kettering University. He graduated from the university in 1985. “These investments represent GM’s commitment to not only educating the next generation’s workforce with the latest technology, but also our commitment to the continued revitalization of the city of Flint and surrounding area.”

The new GM Foundation Automotive Research Area will connect to a Flint revitalization project called “Chevy Commons,” which is converting the vacant industrial land into a park setting.

GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard said the foundation is committed to helping educate the next generation of leaders.

“This facility is an example of our commitment to that mission as well as to Flint’s bright future,” Pickard said in a statement. “This proving ground will productively redevelop land that was a critical part of our company’s heritage into a facility that will help ensure the future workforce will be prepared and educated in one of the most unique and innovative facilities in the country.”

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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