Honda, Ohio State Celebrate 20-Year Partnership

Two partners. Two decades. Countless opportunities created.

The 20-year partnership between Honda and The Ohio State University was celebrated last month, as leaders of both organizations gathered to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.

Kristina Johnson, Ph.D. and Ohio State’s new president, visited the Marysville Auto Plant and Honda R&D Americas’ Ohio Center (HRA-O) before taking part in a live streamed panel that covered the positive attributes the partnership has brought to Ohio communities, Honda and its associates, and the students and faculty of Ohio State University. The panelists included:

  • David Williams, Ph.D., Ohio State dean of the College of Engineering
  • Deb Scherer, managing director of Global Trade and Investment, OneColumbus
  • Brett Roubinek, president and CEO of the Transportation Research Center (TRC)
  • Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Regional Operations at American Honda

Although the memorandum of understanding for the Honda-Ohio State Partnership was signed in 2000, collaboration between the entities began in 1988, when the state of Ohio sold TRC to Honda, along with land that would house Honda’s East Liberty Auto Plant.

“When you partner with a leading educational institution, it’s good for business,” Schostek said. “When we look at this partnership, we think about both people and research.”

Honda has conducted more than $28 million in research activities at the university, including the establishment of its Simulation and Modeling Center, Driving Simulation Laboratory (see sidebar for more), Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence and other labs.

While students work and learn in the labs, they also have the opportunity to solve real-world problems at Honda through capstone projects. During her tour, Dr. Johnson, who has an engineering background, saw an Ohio State capstone presentation on root-cause analysis of stamping-press downtime and the countermeasure students created.

“My experience has taught me that this is an ideal partnership because it has collaboration,” Dr. Johnson said. “The main thing you want in an industrial-university partnership is the transition time from the classroom to the impact at the company to be as short as possible. And Honda does that.”

As part of the partnership, Honda also recruits from Ohio State, especially those that already have Honda exposure through capstone projects or a co-op term. Johnson met Ohio State graduates on her Honda tour and talked to them about their mentoring of current Ohio State students – just one more element of Buckeye engagement. 

“As a university, we are in the business of educating,” Williams said. “We give students experience that will be valuable to them when they graduate from the university. The labs allow them to sample the real world. Honda also recognizes we need diverse students and diverse research in order to come up with diverse solutions to problems.”

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