Ford Robots Inspire Kids to Pursue STEM Education as Part of $300 Million R&D Investment to Develop Next-Generation Vehicles in Australia

Tue, Sep 15, 2015

  • Ford is the only automotive brand that can fully develop vehicles in Australia and continues to invest in a new future for the industry through research, design and engineering, and is showcasing this as a potential career for next-generation innovators
  • Ford is topping up its $300 million R&D investment in Australia with up to another $50,000 donation to FIRST Robotics to fuel further STEM education in schools, including teens building robots for global competitions
  • Ford launches 10-city tour where kids can learn STEM skills by building Lego™ robots while parents become the first in their cities to check out the new Everest SUV and iconic Mustang, which share similar semi-autonomous tech
  • The STEM teams Ford Australia sponsor develop crash avoidance and mitigation systems for the robots, similar to Fords all new suite of radar and sensor-based driver assist technologies – such as Active City Stop and Pre Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, which can help in certain circumstances automatically apply the brakes if a driver does not respond in time to a slowing vehicle ahead or person in their path.

MELBOURNE– Ford is launching the 2015 Ranger truck and new Everest SUV this month after many Australians helped design, engineer and test the vehicles at the company’s local development facilities spread across Melbourne.

But, today, the company is taking time away from the launch to inspire school-age kids in Victoria and New South Wales who may already be dreaming of becoming one of these innovators at Ford in the future.

As many people think the auto industry is closing in Australia, Ford is touring the country with this message for youths as the only auto company that can fully develop vehicles in Australia. In fact, Ford is investing more than $300 million in R&D this year alone on top of nearly $2 billion the past six years.

“Our talented team is designing and engineering cars with leading safety, fuel economy technology and quality for Australians,” said Graeme Whickman, CEO and President, Ford of Australia. “And, we want to inspire the innovative minds who could be part of the next generation of Ford employees by investing even more in community programs and STEM education.”

As part of this investment, Ford also is inspiring young innovators to pursue STEM activities as work progresses on next-generation vehicles. Ford even partners with FIRST Robotics and Melbourne- and Sydney-area high school kids who build robots that compete around the world.

The “Ford Fuels Innovation” campaign is a 10-stop tour shows how STEM skills relate to today’s cars, which feature similar “semi-autonomous” technologies as those used in the robots.

“Most people think Mustang is just a sports car,” says Whickman. “So, we think Australians will be surprised at all of the technologies such as our Blind Spot Monitoring System and Lane Keep Aid, which uses radar, camera and other sensors like robots to help drivers identify and possibly avoid hazards.”

The tour, which kicks off in September, will visit a number of schools and teen robotics competitions in the Sydney and Melbourne areas. The tour continues Ford’s support of STEM teams around the country who develop crash avoidance and mitigation systems for the robots, similar to Fords all new suite of radar and sensor-based driver assist technologies. Working with FIRST Robotics over the course of the tour, the events will feature remote-controlled cars built out of Legos™. Parents and kids will be invited to learn about how the vehicles were built, just as Ford vehicles are, and then challenge each other in a miniature event course.

The challenge will be timed and who ever completes it the fastest will be recognised by Ford with a donation to FIRST Robotics. Each winner will trigger a donation of $10, with a goal of donating $50,000 to FIRST by the final event.

In addition to the remote-controlled vehicles, each event will feature some of the latest and greatest from Ford’s line-up. The Ford Mustang and Ford Everest, two vehicles that are brand new to Australia, will be on display and visiting these communities for the very first time.

  • The Everest, that uniquely combines a rugged, sculptural design with capability and 10 available benefits not offered on a Toyota Prado
  • The Ford Mustang, one of Ford’s most iconic vehicles, having generated unprecedented interest ahead of launch will be on hand for Australians to get up close, ahead of vehicles hitting the road later in the year.
  • And, finally, the Ford Kuga, which is packed with innovative technologies, including the EcoBoost engine delivering 30% more power than the RAV4 on its Trend and Titanium models, with comparable fuel economy

The dates and locations for the Ford Fuels Innovation Tour are as follows:

  • September 12, Doreen Relay for Life, Melbourne, VIC
  • September 29, ASTA Judging and Awards NSW
  • October 9, Abbotsleigh High School, NSW
  • October, Young Scientist Awards, La Trobe University, Melbourne VIC
  • October, Brighton Grammar, Melbourne, VIC
  • October 31, Macquarie Uni FLL Regional NSW
  • November 22, Swinburne FLL Regional, Melbourne, VIC
  • November 28, Cedars Christian College Regional Tournament, Wollongong, NSW
  • November 30, Narrabeen Sports Regional Tournament, NSW
  • December 5, FLL National Tournament, Macquarie University, NSW

If your school is interested in receiving a visit from the tour, please contact

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 65 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Next Generation Learning and other inspiring programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit