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Stanford innovation center studies the auto's past, plans for its future

Image Credit: Stanford University
Jun 3 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Stroll through Stanford University's 8,000-square-foot Automotive Innovation Facility here and you quickly discover that it's more than a learning center for budding engineers.

For instance, you're as likely to hear a serious discussion about the role of cars in American literature or the vintage automobiles used in filming The Great Gatsby as you are about electromechanical systems and battery thermodynamics.

Drawing on Stanford's resources, the facility has become an academic hothouse for all things automotive. It's a think-big tank that looks at everything from how body panels corrode to the history of iconic cars -- not just to solve today's problems but to understand the future of personal transportation and to plan for it.

And the automotive curriculum has proved popular in this left coast breeding ground for Silicon Valley computer titans, having grown to 357 students this year from 106 during the 2011 and 2012 school years.