staff of AUTO21The staff of AUTO21 marked its sunset Thursday (from left): director of operations Sandra Bortolotti, scientific director and CEO Peter Frise, former director of external relations Stephanie Campeau, executive assistant Jan Stewart, and manager finance and administration Mary Anne Henderson. Absent: Raed Kadri, Kristie Pearce and Tina Hague.

Automotive research network produced results for industry and for Canadians

Working on AUTO21 was the “adventure of a lifetime,” scientific director and chief executive officer Peter Frise said Thursday during a reception to celebrate the 15-year run of the Network of Centres of Excellence.

Based at the University of Windsor, the organization wound up its operations recently. It brought together researchers from almost 50 Canadian universities, including the UWindsor faculties of engineering, science, human kinetics, nursing, business, arts and social sciences.

“Starting something new isn’t easy, and that is particularly true of something as big and complicated as a national research network operating within a large federal program,” Dr. Frise said. “Most people never get that opportunity and so it was a tremendous honour to be asked in the spring of 2000 to lead the proposal writing team of what became the AUTO21 NCE.”

Frise, a UWindsor professor of mechanical and automotive engineering, said that the team came from across Canada representing industry and academe to develop a productive, efficient, trusted and transparent organization. He praised its staff, supporters, researchers and more than 2,400 students who worked with AUTO21.

One of the largest of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence, it resulted in more than 320 patents, licenses and commercialization agreements and generated nearly $2.6 billion in economic benefit. From improving vehicle safety and fuel economy to advancing manufacturing processes and vehicle connectivity, its research has saved lives, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and saved industry millions of dollars.

K. W. Michael Siu, UWindsor vice-president, research and innovation, called it a tremendous success.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Dr. Peter Frise and his team, we are delighted to have been able to leverage AUTO21 support to the immense social and economic benefit for the nation, the region and the University of Windsor,” Dr. Siu said.

“Auto21 was one of the longest running and best managed NCEs thanks to the leadership of Peter Frise and the great work of Auto21 staff,” added Merhdad Saif, dean of engineering.

Read a report detailing the legacy of AUTO21.