Toyota Motor North America and Alabama A&M University (AAMU) are launching a “student-led mobility initiative,” which aims to strengthen the area’s connection and access to education, jobs, and clean vehicles. The initiative will unite an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty for the “Clean Low Emissions Approach & Novel Transportation Innovation Practice,” otherwise known as “CLEAN-TRIP.”
The effort is the first of similar initiatives Toyota is establishing across the United States.
“Creating a clean, safe and more efficient environment for the campus proper, as well as the immediate and larger community, has been a major thrust of AAMU for decades,” explained Dr. Ernst Cebert, facilitator of the project and professor within the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences. “Through this project, we will engage students with hands-on learning to address real world problems.”
“We partnered with AAMU because of their focus on renewable energy, strong STEAM programs, and history of preparing well-qualified graduates,” added Al Smith, Group Vice President, Toyota Social Innovation.
Toyota is providing an initial grant of $300,000, which includes scholarships for students accepted into the program. In addition to monetary support, students will work with Toyota to learn the company’s approach to problem solving and critical thinking. Once in the program, students will interact with local residents to better understand their mobility challenges.
“By developing a mobility solution through collaboration with the community, we can help guide students to create better ways to move that also improve quality of life,” Smith said.
In 2017, AAMU received funding from the Federal Transportation Agency to purchase zero-emission electric buses. AAMU was founded in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the Huntsville Normal School. Today, the university has nearly 5,000 undergraduates and over 800 graduate students, with 75 percent of those students already involved in community service projects.