Chrysler raises its engineers’ stature with new Technical Career Path Program

  • 20-Jun-2012 03:39 EDT
Marchionne with Chrys engs.jpg

Chrysler's new Technical Career Path Program was strongly endorsed by CEO Sergio Marchionne, shown here with engineers and technical staff during SOP preparations for the 2013 Dodge Dart.

You’re an engineer who is passionate about your profession. You’re superb at what you do, and you make regular contributions to your company’s technologies and products. But you’re not interested in pursuing a management track in order to move up in your career.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Chrysler’s top leadership concluded that to attract and retain top-notch technical specialists requires boosting the culture of engineering excellence across all disciplines. The company has thus launched a new Technical Career Path Program aimed at recognizing and further developing its entire technical staff.

The program focuses in particular on the many “unsung heroes” in its Vehicle, Powertrain, Supplier Quality, and Product Quality engineering ranks whose experience, know-how, and creativity will underpin the automaker’s future success.

“We have enormous respect for our engineering community,” Dr. Mircea Gradu, Vice President Transmission Powertrain and Driveline Engineering, and Head of Powertrain Virtual Analysis Tools, told AEI. “We need to commit to the people whose inspiration defines our products. By doing so, we will maintain our competitive advantage.”

Dr. Gradu, an SAE Fellow, noted that Fiat Chairman and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne strongly supported creation of the Technical Career Path Program. Chrysler’s engineering staff was greatly diminished in some key areas due to attrition and downsizing during the Great Recession of 2008-10, and the new program is critical to rebuilding and growing the company’s historic engineering prowess.

The program builds on Chrysler’s existing internal engineering-career programs. It establishes four levels of participation: Technical Specialist, Senior Technical Specialist, Walter P. Chrysler Technical Fellow, and Walter P. Chrysler Senior Technical Fellow.

The levels have different qualification criteria based on how an engineer or technician is advancing the state of the art within his or her field, Dr. Gradu explained. Criteria include to what extent an engineer establishes a presence within the industry, such as presenting recent developments at technical conferences and symposia, and is passionate about their area of expertise.

Dr. Gradu said the program was defined by extensive benchmarking across many global industry sectors, not only within the auto industry.

He cited development of recent Chrysler innovations, including the Pentastar V6, the front-axle-disconnect system on Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger AWD sedans, and the torrent of fuel efficiency technologies on the 2013 Ram, as impossible without the essential input of scores of behind-the-scenes experts.

“Combustion engineering, CFD, lubrication, aerodynamics, energy and thermal management, NVH, controls/calibration, and virtual analysis, to name a few,” Dr. Gradu said.

Chrysler’s website for careers is: www.chryslercareers.com.

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