Lunch at the annual program review of the research projects between U-M and Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is often a networking affair. That was the case this year, but this lunch offered a more meaningful opportunity for many who attended. U-M students in two programs that received $1 million in funding from TRI had the occasion to network with the company’s leadership and staff. This was a chance to talk about industry trends, research ideas, job opportunities, and career paths. This was a chance to showcase amazing talent, and a chance to say thank you.

TRI’s commitment (more information on this gift can be found here) to diversity initiatives reflects their values as a company and mirrors U-M’s priorities. The two programs TRI supports with this gift are comprehensive support programs for students in Engineering from underrepresented minorities.

The lunch was attended by a dozen U-M students and served as an opportunity for them to learn from seasoned industry professionals. Jeanne Murabito, Executive Director of Student Affairs at the College of Engineering noted, “These students are making incredible contributions to the community and to the world. These programs create a community of scholars and this funding helps students to do great work outside their classroom experience and have fellowships for Master’s students.”

Tori Orr, a Senior in Mechanical Engineering from Spelman College in the Dual Degree in Engineering Partnership, who is trying to build a real ‘Ironman’ for fun in her spare time, is currently choosing between three highly competitive offers. She shared, “I have better opportunities thanks to this program.” When thanking TRI for their gift, she said, “TRI chose to be here – that speaks largely to their commitment to provide opportunity for students.”  

Ryan Rosiario, first year Ph.D. student in the Bridges to the Doctorate program, acknowledged the role TRI plays: “I’ve felt such a great amount of support here, and this was partially enabled by TRI’s generosity.”

In addition to this $1 million gift to support underrepresented students in Engineering, TRI has a significant research partnership with U-M, supporting 16 faculty projects in the areas of advanced safety and autonomy, mobility, scientific discovery through material science.

More information can be found here.