It’s not just slide rules and pocket protectors!

  • It is the time of year when we gather to contemplate the things for which we are all thankful. Engineers may have appreciation for things that are overlooked by the general public, so we asked around to see what some of the things are that make some automotive engineers’ lives enough better that they have special appreciation for them. Would any of these items make your list?

    Image source: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

  • Brembo’s Ben Pohl’s thankfulness is elemental. Literally. He tips his hat to aluminum.

    “Aluminum is a wonderfully versatile material—it’s light, stiff, relatively inexpensive, recyclable, attractive and corrosion-resistant all while being fairly easy to work with in a manufacturing environment.  It is used in everything from cars to airplanes to bicycles to beverage cans (all things I’m interested in).  And, of course, it’s the core material of the signature Brembo product, our brake calipers.  Where would we be without it?”

    Image source: Brembo

  • As Ford Motor Co. Global Product Development Director for battery electric vehicles, Darren Palmer is always on the go. So he appreciates something that makes it easier for him to work from the road: Bose noise-cancelling headphones.

    “I travel around the world a lot. We work with no office desks. So I use portable wireless Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I can work in the middle of a plant even, anywhere in the world.”

    Image source: Bose

  • BMW’s manager of connected e-mobility, Jan Freimann, is thinking even more fundamentally than Pohl! Rather than an element, he’s looking at a force of nature, as described by Charles-Augustin de Coulomb: he’s named Coulomb’s Law, describing the electrostatic force of attraction and repulsion, as illustrated by the like-charged hairs repelling one another. It is also the force that lets electric motors propel EVs like BMW’s i8 sports car.

    Image source: Dan Carney

  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety senior research engineer Becky Mueller recognizes the importance of communicating our work to a wider audience, so she has appreciation for something so ubquitous it could be easily overlooked: Microsoft Powerpoint.

    “I am thankful for Powerpoint because it allows me to take my engineering observations and communicate in a way to reach various audiences. Whether it is diagrams or adding photos and videos together. The greatest development means nothing if you can’t communicate what it is and what it can be used for. Having that bridge and being able to explain it to your audience is important. It is something I use every day.”

    Image source: Microsoft Corp.

  • Toyota senior engineer for fuel cells, Jackie Birdsall (center, in the cobalt blue shoes), is thinking a little more traditionally and less technically than the others, so we’ll close with her thanks to her colleagues: “I don’t want to be too cheesy – but I am thankful for my colleagues. Our team perfectly complements one another to balance our strengths and weaknesses. I believe this team could solve any engineering problem. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.