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Tesla teams up with Notre Dame class to improve Gigafactory

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture has teamed up with Tesla Inc. to create a new college course that will focus on problem solving for Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nevada.

Gigafactory 1 is the highest-volume battery production facility in the world.

Students enrolled in the design studio course will focus on how to move people and materials through the Gigafactory. Students will also develop solutions to problems created by rapid expansion in Reno.

"I’m excited to see how architecture mixes with engineering especially because that’s what I want to do later so working with arch students is going to be very helpful in that regards so increasing my exposure to architecture is a big goal for me so if I could do that in this class it would be amazing," said third year Notre Dame student, Isabella Delgado-Castillo.

The Gigafactory operates with many of the elements of a traditional city: police, fire, public works, offices, restaurants, etc.

The interdisciplinary team is led by Marianne Cusato, adjunct associate professor of architecture, and includes Notre Dame College of Engineering’s Jeffrey Kantor, professor of chemical and bio-molecular engineering.

"The first immediate takeaway from this is the students and faculty involved in this course will all come away with clarity of thought that can be applied to everything we do. Were hoping then we can take on other projects locally that we can apply that to. It’s the clarity of thought that we learn with this that becomes applicable in every project we encounter locally specially Notre Dame campus school of architecture and college of engineering and the whole south bend Michiana region," Cusato said.

With 7,000 employees, the Gigafactory is only 30 percent complete. The city of Reno can expect to welcome 10,000 new residents each year as the operation moves towards full capacity.

The three credit hour course will begin in January of 2019 and will conclude with student presentations to Tesla management and Notre Dame faculty.

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