General Motors Honors Engineers With Technical Innovation Awards

By: Iver Penn

General Motors has announced June 12 the winners of the annual "Boss" Kettering awards, one of GM's most prestigious engineering achievements. Sixty-eight award winners from thirteen teams are set to be recognized at a ceremony on Tuesday, June 26, at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich.

The "Boss" Kettering awards are GM's highest internal recognition for technical innovation. Named after GM's Charles F. "Boss" Kettering, the first head of GM's Research and Development Laboratories and the originator of more than 140 patents, the awards honor individuals from every region of the globe whose outstanding inventions and innovations have demonstrated technological leadership and identifiable benefit to General Motors during the previous year.

"Boss Kettering award winners have a unique and important role in our company's success," said Jim Queen, GM Group Vice President, Global Engineering. "As stretch thinkers and drivers of innovation, you serve as role models for everyone at GM, displaying the spirit, the determination and the commitment needed to lead the way in the 21st century."

This year, the award winners highlight GM's focus on the use of technology to enhance the customer's overall vehicle experience, increase vehicle safety, reduce product to market lead time, and increase manufacturing efficiency.

2006 "Boss" Kettering Award Winners
(Source: GM)

BELT-ALTERNATOR-STARTER TENSIONER DESIGN

The BAS Hybrid features a dual mode Belt-Alternator-Starter Tensioner that ensures proper belt tension in all hybrid operating modes. This innovative "industry first" design system optimizes overall belt tension and bearing loads at significantly reduced manufacturing cost.

Winner: Paul McVicar and Cynthia Thurston from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.

CARGO MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

The unique modular Cargo Management System utilizes three fasteners to attach to GM full-size pick-up trucks. The system does not add additional weight or cost to the vehicle and can be added at the assembly plant, dealership, or as an aftermarket product.

Winner: Brian Jutila from GMNA Product Development.

EMULATION FOR VIRTUAL VALIDATION OF CONTROLLER LOGIC

The Emulation for Virtual Validation of Controller Logic offers engineers the ability to validate controls logic in a virtual environment, minimizing Virtual Validation of Controller Logic technology removes the validation process from the product launch critical path, supporting key launch timing strategy.

Winners: Leandro Barajas, Stephan Biller, Fangming Gu, and Chengyin Yuan from GM Research and Development; and Dan Aufderheide, Jeff Byrnes, Gabriel DeMarco, Mark Emeott, Gerald Gurian and Demet Wood from Controls, Conveyors, Robotics & Welding Manufacturing Engineering.

EXTENDED CAB PICKUP 170 DEGREE REAR DOOR

This innovative invention allows the rear vehicle door to fold almost flat against the pickup truck body with 170 degrees of rotation, enhancing vehicle accessibility. The invention utilizes a hidden hinge system which improves vehicle appearance.

Winner: Brad Pietryga from GMNA Product Development.
INNOVATIVE CURTAIN AIRBAG SYSTEM WITH NEW FIXATION CONCEPT

This new airbag attachment system utilizes "industry first" clips which enable significant cost savings. The implementation of this technology complies with GM's vehicle safety requirements and supports the EuroNCAP 5- Star rating for this product.

Winners: Frank Bonarens, Matthias Brunner, and Johannes Diehl from GM PE Airbag & Restraint Systems, Steering Wheels, and Labels; Waldemar Medla from GM Europe Vehicle Systems; and Benjamin De Buysscher from GM Belgium NV/Manufacturing Engineering.

MAINTENANCE TOOLBOX DEVELOPMENT FOR GM POWERTRAIN PLANTS

The Maintenance Toolbox is a real-time plant floor decision support tool which provides prioritized maintenance alerts, preventive maintenance opportunity window notification, throughput analysis, prioritized lists of failing machine components based on a total cost approach, and uses predictive maintenance techniques to optimize preventive maintenance intervals. The system enables the identification of machine components that have the largest cost impact considering frequency of failure, downtime and component cost, facilitating maximum manufacturing throughput.

Winners: Venkat Ram Dwibhashyam from GM Powertrain Manufacturing Engineering; Basel Shadid from the GM Powertrain St. Catharine's Engine Plant; Leandro Barajas, Stephan Biller, Qing Chang, and Guoxian Xiao from GMNA Research & Development; and Pulak Bandyopadhyay from GM Research & Development - India.

MATH BASED POWERTRAIN TESTING & CALIBRATION

The Math Based Powertrain Testing and Calibration process creates a "virtual test cell" from limited test data to produce significantly enhanced Powertrain calibrations. The use of this methodology produces calibrations that fully optimize fuel economy, performance, and quality. This technology provides a means to reduce product to market lead time, reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction via improved powertrain performance.

Winners: Julian Blair, Xu Han, William Howell, Pochuan Hsing, Joseph Kelly, Uday Korde, Rohit Paranjpe, and Xinyu Zhou of GM Powertrain Product Engineering; and Donald Jones from GMNA Product Development.

ONSTAR VEHICLE DIAGNOSTICS

The OnStar Vehicle Diagnostic system enhances customer satisfaction and improves vehicle safety by utilizing a unique set of algorithms to collect key information. Using this information, OnStar sends a personalized e-mail to inform customers of their vehicle maintenance status. Additionally, GM engineers utilize the data to detect and address issues that may occur throughout the vehicle's lifecycle.

Winners: John Correia, Walter Dorfstatter, Chester Huber, Neelie Kapral, Fahd Laghrari, Shane McCutchen, Christopher Oesterling, Steven Ross, and Steven Samolinski from OnStar.

PARK ASSIST/REAR VIDEO OBJECT OVERLAY

This innovative invention is an integration of Rear Vision and Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist which is designed to warn drivers of objects located behind the vehicle. It features a visual "caution" symbol that significantly enhances customer satisfaction and safety.

Winners: Charles Green and Kent Lybecker from GMNA Product Development.

REAR END CARRIER "FLEX FIX"

This invention extends the load carrying capacity of the traditional vehicle to the rear exterior section. The load carrier is completely integrated into the vehicle's rear end design utilizing underbody space. The invention allows the vehicle to extend load capacity without interfering with vehicle maneuverability or compactness.

Winners: Ralf Bechtold and Frank Leopold from the GM Vehicle Architecture & Innovation Center; Hendrick Hofmann from GM PE Body-in-White; Heiko Oetting and Sven Weinfurtner from GM Europe Adam Opel; and Thomas Uhlendorf from GM Europe Reuse Management.

ROBOT DATA EXTRACTION AND VALIDATION TOOL

The Robot Data Extraction and Validation Tool is a robust analytical data- driven methodology utilizing assembly plant robot data to automatically validate manufacturing design intent. The tool drives plant efficiency and improves the quality of the weld verification process by reconciling any discrepancies between the design engineering intent and actual plant floor implementation. Weld verification is a critical process in maintaining the safety and structural integrity of the vehicle.

Winners: Eric Carlson, Laurie Francis-Krentz, Brian Miller, Assolime Santy-Ateyaba, James Singer, and Gary Snavely from GM Manufacturing Engineering; Roland Menassa and Jane Shi from GM Research & Development.

STATE COMPENSATED MISFIRE DETECTION

State compensated misfire detection provides a novel mathematical approach to detecting engine misfire. This invention enabled the detection of misfires on high performance engines without adding significant cost or hardware to the engine.

Winners: Tameem Assaf, David Mathews, and David St. Pierre from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.

TRANSITION CONTROL FOR ENGINE STOP-STARTS

These inventions enable the Belt-Alternator-Starter (BAS) Hybrid to have superior quality engine stop-starts and associated low-speed driveline control, while achieving excellent fuel economy. The inventions make possible a simpler, lower cost hybrid system that reduces the disturbance related to engine stop-starts and is critical to vehicle performance quality.

Winners: William Aldrich III, Birendra Bhattarai, Donald Crites, Tony Hoang, Goro Tamai, James Worthing and Mark Zerbini from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.

General Motors, also maker of quality , created the "Boss" Kettering award in 1976, on Charles F. Kettering's 100th birthday to recognize GM researchers, scientists and engineers for bold new ideas and contributions.

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