Discovering potholes and engineering possibilities

  • 09-Apr-2014 10:09 EDT
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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was one of the speakers during the opening ceremony at SAE 2014 World Congress. The governor noted that 2009 was a low point for the auto industry. "The issue was, how do you even sell a vehicle? But the industry is coming back strong, particularly in North America."

The Chairman and CEO of AVL List GmbH sees engineering opportunities in teeth-jarring, rutted roadways.

“Every time I come to Michigan I learn something new. This time, Governor, I learned a new word: potholes. Of course, if you wanted us as engineers to work on vehicle suspensions, you only had to ask,” Helmet List, AVL List GmbH’s Chairman and CEO, quipped before introducing Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at the SAE 2014 World Congress Opening Ceremony.

Michigan’s governor responded that he is working on potholes and other key issues, such as uniting government, the private sector, and the educational community toward a common goal. “We have a skills gap out there,” Gov. Snyder said, adding, “The jurisdictions that do the best job of understanding how important talent is are going to have a five- to 10-year strategic advantage over other places.”

The auto industry has come a long way since the jobs crash of 2008-09.

Kevin Vincent, Chief Counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said that “as the industry has recently surged back to life, we’ve learned this: When you unleash engineers to push the edge of the envelope, the driving public enjoys amazing results.”

Vincent, who replaced NHTSA’s Acting Administrator David Friedman as the keynote speaker on Tuesday morning in the AVL-sponsored ballroom at Cobo Center, told the crowd of engineers that its work is helping to save lives, reduce vehicle emissions, and increase vehicle fuel efficiency.

Finding solutions is what engineers do, and SAE can help, Jeff Hemphill, SAE International Automotive Vice President and the Chief Technical Officer at Schaeffler Group USA Inc., said in his opening ceremony remarks.

“SAE International can be that comprehensive value source that our industry so sorely needs. And we can be that because of events like this, and because of people like you. People who care about their profession and the impact that we have on society,” Hemphill said.

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