Jan 19, 2018 | Christine Lewis Toyota and Mazda have signed on for a $1.6 billion joint venture to bring a new automobile manufacturing plant to Huntsville, which will employ 4,000+ people. Production will start in three years, but the work required to bring the plant here begins in a few months; roadway construction, rail access and other infrastructure to support the development. Businesses from across the country are now inquiring about locating here, which will benefit UAH and its students. "It should provide more job opportunities, both within that facility and also with smaller companies that will come to the area as external suppliers to Toyota-Mazda," said ISEEM professor Dr. Sampson Gholston. As for what the development will mean for ISEEM, Dr. Gholston says that the College of Engineering will very likely work on partnering with Toyota-Mazda engineering teams on senior design projects, which provide students opportunities to work on a real-world engineering challenges. A new major employer in the region also influences some of the educational content in university programs. "We'll normally partner with large organizations to calibrate our instructional programs to provide students with the right skills to succeed in those industries," said Dr. Gholston. Alabama was among 22 states to compete for the project, which will produce 300,000 vehicles per year, including the top-selling Toyota Corolla and a new SUV from Mazda.