Designing the best possible environment

  • 17-Oct-2008 09:44 EDT

David L. Schutt, Executive Vice President, SAE International

Since beginning as SAE International’s Executive Vice President, I have had the pleasure of talking with members and customers in many towns, cities, universities, and businesses across the U.S. and around the world. I can say that there has been no shortage of beliefs, opinions, and ideas along the way.

But there is one thing that I have found to be a constant, and that is the knowledge that we, as mobility enterprise and as human beings, have an impact on the environment.

Now, whether that impact is good or bad is not the topic of this article; that is a debate better suited for other venues. The point I want to focus on is this: there is an impact.

That belief is evident by the actions of many primes, OEMs, suppliers, and other manufacturers working in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial vehicle sectors. In each sector, professionals are working to reduce the negative impact and increase the positive impact of mobility on the environment.

In aerospace, two areas in particular are being addressed—emissions and noise. Technology has helped to significantly reduce hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide over the past 20 years; but more work needs to be done to reduce nitrogen oxides. The willingness is there, but as we all know, such technology takes investment and ingenuity. Aircraft noise also is a primary area of concern. Again, much progress has been achieved, but more is needed to continually meet FAA noise reduction certification levels and to make areas surrounding large airports quieter and more enjoyable for residents.

The automobile industry’s entire supply chain works to reduce the impact its products and processes have on the environment. Consideration in R&D is given to addressing the environmental component of sustainable development, oftentimes through product life cycle analysis and the “well-to-wheel” approach. Such tactics enable manufacturers and all involved to quantify and modify their approaches to energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with raw material extraction, processing of materials, manufacturing, use phase, and end of life (reuse, recycle, and disposal).

Issues faced by commercial vehicle professionals include emissions abatement, and discussions are focusing on systems that will help reduce nitrogen gas emissions, systems such as exhaust gas recirculation and selective catalyst reduction. Also, like professionals in the other sectors, commercial vehicle engineers and manufacturers are working to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the vehicles/machines from design to manufacture to maintenance and, finally, to disposal or remanufacture.

The challenges regarding the environment are ever-changing and will be with us for a long time. As has been the case for more than 100 years, mobility professionals are there, leading the effort to find solutions, and SAE International is proud to be a stakeholder in this bold and important endeavor.

As always, I welcome your feedback and constructive input to this topic and any other issues on your mind. Please feel free to e-mail me at

David L. Schutt, Executive Vice President, SAE International

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