Ford Opens Atlanta Research and Innovation Center to Tap Local Tech Talent for Company’s Digital Transformation

Ford Motor Company is opening the Ford Atlanta Research and Innovation Center (FARIC) to advance the company’s digital transformation in areas such as software-led connected vehicles, artificial intelligence, university research and more.

FARIC joins a network of Ford research and development facilities in Tel Aviv and Palo Alto dedicated to pioneering the future of transportation with automated, connected and electrified vehicles. Now, the new Atlanta location places Ford in one of the most diverse tech talent markets in the U.S. and enables the company to develop a pipeline of software experts with a variety of backgrounds.

“Ford is transitioning from a traditional automotive company to a digital products and services company driven by software innovation,” said Jim Buczkowski, executive director for Ford Research, Advanced Engineering. “There’s a high demand for tech talent across industries, and we have an opportunity to create non-traditional career pathways to attract and develop the expertise needed to stay competitive.”

As the company undergoes the most profound transformation in its history, it remains committed to developing a workforce that reflects the communities and customers that it serves. For Ford, this includes attracting and retaining historically underrepresented talent, especially in the software engineering and high technology fields.

“Atlanta continues to attract and grow tech companies and startups; and we continue to attract a desirable talent base — particularly for Black tech talent. We look forward to this partnership with the Ford Atlanta Research and Innovation Center, which has the potential to help us grow an even more robust and diverse pipeline,” said Mayor Andre Dickens.

Aside from serving as an innovation hub and delivering software solutions, the FARIC team will also focus on increasing Black, Hispanic and female representation in software engineering and high technology careers. Strategies include:

  • Leveraging relationships with regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and The Atlanta University Center Consortium to help make high-tech career opportunities more available to diverse students
  • Continuing to create and deepen relationships with regional colleges and universities, including HBCUs and Hispanic Service Institutions, to conduct pioneering research and address Ford’s growing need for the new competencies required for electrification, connected vehicles and software engineering that are revolutionizing Ford products, technologies and services
  • Creating flexible, non-traditional career pathways for people interested in pursuing software and high-tech careers, including co-ops, internships, part-time work, and non-degree software programs in collaboration with Atlanta-based TechBridge and community partner City of Refuge

“Underrepresentation is a significant issue in software and engineering industries, especially when it comes to Black and Hispanic communities, which makes it particularly exciting to work with local colleges, universities and nonprofits to help bring greater diversity into the tech space,” said Doron Elliott, senior manager of Ford In-Vehicle Infotainment, who will also oversee FARIC operations. “Building this critical talent base will enable Ford to continue to find innovative and efficient ways to develop cutting-edge products and services to meet the demands of a very diverse customer base.”

New Workplace Design Standards

Located within the new 8West development on Atlanta’s Upper West Side (889 Howell Mill Road NW), the 24,000-square-foot FARIC space is designed to surpass standard ADA compliance with a thoughtful, accessible layout that supports inclusion, flexibility, collaboration and innovation.

The all-new workspace supports individual needs while promoting creativity and team collaboration through an open and accessible floor plan designed to support the needs of a diverse and innovative team. It includes individual focus space, sit/stand desks, soft seating, and phone booth-style space where employees can take calls or work independently.

The meeting spaces extend beyond traditional conference rooms to an open collaboration space with a learning stair for large group meetings equipped with technology to incorporate virtual participants, a garage space for hands-on problem-solving and living-room-style seating for more casual brainstorms or catch-ups.

“We have learned so much over the last few years about flexible workspace and its power to inspire employees,” said Jennifer Kolstad, Ford’s global design & brand director. “We’ve created an environment at FARIC that allows individuals and teams to choose what kind of environment is most efficient in the moment.”

People interested in pursuing career opportunities at FARIC should email FARIC@ford.com.

Atlanta City:One Challenge

Ford will bring its next City:One Challenge to Atlanta. The crowd-sourcing platform, created by Ford, helps cities identify mobility solutions designed to address systemic mobility inequity, accessibility, safety and sustainability issues. It offers up to $150,000 in grants to startups and entrepreneurs to pilot mobility solutions with Atlanta residents.

The Atlanta City:One Challenge will focus on addressing income inequality and its impact on safety and access to mobility, particularly for women, aging adults, students, and people with disabilities.

Sponsored by AT&T, Delta Air Lines, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and Novelis, the program is administered in part by student fellows from local colleges and universities, and proposals will be accepted May–June 2023. Winners will be chosen by December 2023, and mobility pilots are expected to deploy in Atlanta neighborhoods by summer 2024.

Since 2018, City:One has distributed more than $1 million in grant funding to 15 mobility pilots across the country.

 

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