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Engineering Connections

May 7 – Detroit -  “Get Connected.” That was the theme at the 2012 Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress, held in late April in Detroit.

The conference was organized around the new and diverse connections that will drive advancements in the auto industry of tomorrow – literal connections, such as those between vehicles, infrastructure, the Internet, and the nation’s electrical grid, and the connections and relationships between engineers who are developing the next generation vehicle technology.

Chairman for this year’s event was Bob Sump, vice president, Nissan Technical Center – North America. Sump spoke with the Global Media Center about the 2012 SAE conference, and getting connected.

Q1. Please explain the “Get Connected” theme:

Sump: When we chose get connected, we saw it as a very ambiguous statement, in fact it can mean lots of things to lots of different people; we did that on purpose. You know some of the examples of get connected are very obvious when you talk about connecting electric vehicles to the grid, connecting electric vehicles to your home and appliances and all of those things, but it also is talking about getting connected with the various companies that may not be part of the traditional automotive to develop these resources and technologies that you need to bring this to fruition. It’ also about connecting engineers who need to work together to be able to create the technology we need to sustain the automobile industry going forward.

Q2. How haGetting Connected at SAEve the engineers taken to the theme?

Sump: The engineers’ response I think has been very good. Unlike what we’ve had over the last few years, this year brought a lot more of new technologies and new companies. Engineers fundamentally want to learn about new things and new places, so by having this new get connected theme and bringing people in, it has really invigorated  the engineers into, ‘I get a chance to see what I want to see, talk about the things that I like to do. So -  they’ve really embraced this thought, quite heavily.

Q3. Why did Nissan Partner with GE at this event?

Sump: It goes back to the “Get connected” theme. In the past all of the manufacturers have chosen a very traditional tier-one supplier, so they didn’t go outside of the box. We started thinking about it and said look, if we really mean get connected, we need to be the first ones to actually take that and put it into practice. And so, who can we partner with that has a broad company basis that can help contribute to this get connected idea. GE is in such a broad area, GE has a lot of work with the networks and infrastructure, and so it’s a great chance for us to learn from them about those aspects that they have the expertise on. On the other hand it is also a chance for them to learn about how we design the vehicles and how they work so that they can influence their side. Unless both of them come together you’re not going to end up with success.

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