Mentor Monday: GM Engineer Shows OSU That It’s All About Predicting the Future

This week’s Mentor Monday post features Dale Klein, a GM mentor, who explains that his strategy for success in the workplace is all about making predictions.  As an energy and drive quality engineer at GM, Dale uses computer models to predict fuel economy and performance in the early stages of vehicle production.  In his first mentorship during the Challenge X competition, he passed this notion on to the students at University of Akron.  And currently, the EcoCAR team at Ohio State University has benefited from Dale’s approach. 
“I’ve helped teach the students to think things through ahead of time and anticipate if their vehicle will meet the competition requirements,” said Dale. “That way, the students can respond to the judges’ questions even before they ask them. There are no surprises.” 
In Year Two, the Ohio State EcoCAR team worked on completing their very complex hybrid powertrain system.  “I have a ton of respect for the students.  They chose a system that’s definitely not easy to build,” said Dale.

Dale Klein with the OSU EcoCAR team

Despite their challenging vehicle, the OSU team was able to run their car in electric-only mode and complete most of the events at the Year Two test drives in Yuma, AZ.  In San Diego, they were awarded fifth place in the overall competition and scored well in the judges’ reports.
In Year Three of the EcoCAR challenge, Dale will continue to help his students focus on predictions, especially in terms of consumer criticisms.  The students will spend most of their time debugging issues that they ran out of time for in Year Two: rewiring the inverter connections and engine harness, improving fuel economy, and refining consumer drive-ability. 
“I’m confident that the students will make the vehicle live up to 110 percent of its potential,” said Dale.

To help them do this, he is planning to travel to Columbus at least once in the fall and again in early spring to advise the team in these final stages before the EcoCAR closing ceremonies next year in Washington, D.C.
“EcoCAR is great for the students because they get to work directly with big name companies like GM.  And it’s really great for the companies, too, because we can put the best students to work immediately after graduation,” said Dale.  “I wish I had something like this when I was in school!”