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Notre Dame, Tesla partner to offer new architecture course

| Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Notre Dame is launching an architecture design studio course with Tesla, the University announced in a press release Nov. 19.

The course centers on Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nevada. According to the release, the factory is “the highest-volume battery production facility in the world.” Participants in the course will work with local government and study the movement of people and materials through the factory.

Michael Lykoudis, the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of the School of Architecture, said the partnership between Notre Dame and Tesla reflects the University’s commitment to both tradition and adapting to the future.

“Our school is part of a continuum that links timeless principles of traditional urbanism with cutting-edge technology to find solutions for tomorrow’s problems today,” Lykoudis said in the release. “Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy pairs naturally with our commitment to the responsible use of resources in service of humanity.”

Marianne Cusato, adjunct associate professor of architecture, said the course will help students develop “urban planning” skills. Cusato is the head of a team of Notre Dame faculty from various fields, among them chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Jeffrey Kantor.

“At its core, the new design studio is an urban planning exercise because the Gigafactory contains all of the elements of a city: police, fire, public works, offices, restaurants, etc.,” Cusato said in the release. “We hope the patterns we explore in this studio will have applications far beyond the course.”

In addition to studying processes at the Gigafactory, students will also focus on “airports and large factories,” the release said. Overall, the course will focus on moving materials and people through large structures during all stages of production.

“We are excited to collaborate with the students and faculty at Notre Dame,” Pete Rusin, project architect at Gigafactory 1, said in the release. “A university setting allows us to look at our processes through a new lens while at the same time inspiring the next generation of innovators.”

According to the release, the course will also address collaboration between businesses and local governments in response to rapid urban expansion. At 7,000 employees, the Gigafactory is currently 30 percent complete. However, as expansion continues and production increases, the Reno-Sparks region will receive about 10,000 new residents a year, the release said. Students will respond to this growth through the course, presenting economic development proposals, ways to increase “affordable housing” and develop infrastructure to adapt to an increase in residents and businesses.

Students can participate in the course during the spring 2019 semester, the release said. At the end of the course, students will present in front of “Tesla management and Notre Dame faculty.”

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