Photo courtesy of GM Canada

As automotive technology evolves toward autonomous cars, a need arises for skilled software engineers to fill a growing gap in talent. For many, Silicon Valley might seem like the obvious place to turn, but that is not what the GM Global Product Chief, Mark Reuss told Wall Street analysts at the automaker's global business conference. Reuss informed the world with confidence that the company is relying on their partnership with the University of Waterloo, a school with a world-renowned software engineering program and located near GM's Canadian engineering hub, roughly 3,000 miles from the valley.

Developing autonomous vehicle technology in Silicon Valley would present logistical problems

Collaborating to access autonomous vehicle technology is a more efficient model than stationing engineers in California, a GM spokesperson told Auto News. Whether in Michigan or in Germany, it is difficult to integrate work being done in California to a company's engineering hub, they added. That's why GM's CEO, Mary Barra, is in no hurry to expand her presence there. Instead, the company is choosing to build upon their long-established research partnership with the University of Waterloo.

GM's research partnership with the University of Waterloo dates back to the 1960s

To the research community in Waterloo, GM's announcement came as no surprise. According to the University of Waterloo, executives from General Motors Corporation, General Motors Research and General Motors Canada visited the school just a few months prior to the company's global business conference. They came to learn more about the innovative research taking place across six faculties, which involves 125 professors, 30 staff engineers and more than 260 graduate students. The school is a North American leader in advanced automotive research, and GM is supporting the university's expansion in research and development of powertrain, connectivity for infotainment and advanced materials.

Among the places visited by the GM team were the university's 3D Print Centre, the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS), the Embedded Software Laboratory, the Student Design Centre, the Metal Forming and Impact Laboratory, and the Mechatronics Vehicles Laboratory. At the Tatham Centre, executives were able to witness Waterloo University co-op students engaged in work assignments related to the development of autonomous vehicle technology. General Motors has taken advantage of the university's well-established co-op program, using it to recruit talent into full-time positions across North America as well as in China. The team also stopped in at the school's Quantum-Nano Centre, the Velocity Garage and the Virtual Reality cave, located within the Communitech hub. Reuss told the Waterloo Record that his team was blown away by what they saw during their visit. "As we look at the next 20-year horizon we look at places that may have people with that capability. This is one of those places, and that's why we are here," said Reuss.

Learn why the future of the automobile is being developed in Ontario

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