GM mild hybrid system wins two "Boss" Kettering awards

Charles Kettering was a legendary engineer in the early years of General Motors who created innovations like the electric self starter, all-electric lighting and many other innovations. Kettering had over 140 patents to his name and that was back when patents actually meant something. He started the Dayton Electrical Laboratory Company that eventually became Delco and major part of GM. After joining GM, Kettering led their research labs for many years.

In 1976 GM started awarding their annual Kettering awards to engineers and scientists within the company to honor the top technical innovations of the previous year. This year two of the awards go to teams that worked on GM's new belt-alternator-starter mild hybrid system as used on the Saturn Vue and Aura hybrids. One of the awards is for the belt tensioner design for the system. The tensioner is critical to making the system work reliably for recapturing energy during regenerative braking and also restarting the engine. The other award goes to the team that developed the transition control for stops and starts to make it as smooth as possible.

[Source: General Motors]

General Motors Awards Engineers For Technical Innovation

DETROIT – Today, General Motors announced the winners of the annual "Boss" Kettering awards, one of GM's most prestigious engineering achievements. The sixty-eight award winners from thirteen teams will 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. The award is named for GM's Charles F. "Boss" Kettering, the first head of GM's Research and Development Laboratories and the originator of more than 140 patents. General Motors created the "Boss" Kettering award in 1976, on Charles F. Kettering's 100 th birthday to recognize GM researchers, scientists and engineers for bold new ideas and contributions. 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 21 st century."

This year's award winners showcase 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. The awards represent the efforts of GM employees around the world, illustrating the global reach of GM innovation. The 2006 "Boss" Kettering awards clearly represent GM's commitment to changing the way the world drives.

2006 "Boss" Kettering Award Winners


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.

The Belt-Alternator-Starter Tensioner Design team award winners are Paul McVicar and Cynthia Thurston from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.


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.

The Cargo Management System team award winner is Brian Jutila from GMNA Product Development.


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

The Emulation for Virtual Validation of Controller Logic team award winners are: 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.


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.

The Extended Cab Pickup 170 Degree Rear Doorteam award winner is Brad Pietryga from GMNA Product Development.


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.

The Innovative Curtain Airbag System with New Fixation Concept team award winners are: 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.


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.

The Maintenance Toolbox Development for GM Powertrain Plants award winners are: 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.


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.

The Math Based Powertrain Testing & Calibration team award winners are: 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.


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.

The OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics team award winners are: John Correia, Walter Dorfstatter, Chester Huber, Neelie Kapral, Fahd Laghrari, Shane McCutchen, Christopher Oesterling, Steven Ross, and Steven Samolinski from OnStar.


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.

The Park Assist/Rear Video Object Overlay team award winners are: Charles Green and Kent Lybecker from GMNA Product Development.


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.

The Rear End Carrier "Flex Fix" team award winners are: 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.


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.

The Robot Data Extraction and Validation Tool team award winners are: 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 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.

The State Compensated Misfire Detection team award winners are: Tameem Assaf, David Mathews, and David St. Pierre from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.


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.

Transition Control for Engine Stop-Starts team award winners are: William Aldrich III, Birendra Bhattarai, Donald Crites, Tony Hoang, Goro Tamai, James Worthing and Mark Zerbini from GM Powertrain Product Engineering.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the annual global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 280,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. More information on GM can be found at

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