Ford School APS students reimagine GM Powertrain Plant Facility and Willow Run Airport

April 26, 2013

Ford School master's students Patrick Leonard, Tyler Sawher, Dan Trubman, and Eboni Wells presented proposals to local officials, community leaders, and residents that would repurpose the GM Powertrain Plant Facility and the Willow Run Airport as a waste management facility, or "Energyopolis," and "Willow Network," a research hub. The presentation served as the culmination of the students' final project for the Applied Policy Seminar (APS). The four students were part of a research group that also included students from the U-M's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the School of Public Health, and the College of Engineering. reported that the students researched the sites for several months and presented three proposals for how to repurpose the sites and potentially revive the communities around them, which had been economically devastated by the plant closure.

The students found, for example, that only 7 percent of southeast Michigan's waste is recycled and that each year the state of Michigan spends nearly $22.6 billion on energy resource imports. According to the article, the students' Energyopolis "would include five components: a science park, discovery center, a transit node, the West Willow neighborhoods and a park network, equipped with a running path, constructed wetland and other features."

The Applied Policy Seminar, now called Strategic Public Policy Consulting or SPPC, is a semester-long master's-level course in which students engage in a supervised consulting project with a real-world client.