GM's Larry Burns is a pretty well known name around these parts, but for those unfamiliar with the name, he is the Vice President of Research and Development and Strategic Planning for the company. Larry leads all the efforts involving cool new technologies at the Detroit car-maker. While we have focused on powertrain innovations like fuel cells, batteries and HCCI there is a lot of other work going on at GM in other areas such as materials as well. ASM International has decided to give Larry their 2007 Medal for the Advancement of Research particularly for work on shape memory materials. These materials can change their properties when exposed to various stimuli like electrical charges or heat and then return to their original form. The GM press release is after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

Burns Receives ASM International 2007 Medal Award for the Advancement of Research

PONTIAC, Mich. – Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and strategic planning at General Motors, has received the ASM International 2007 Medal for the Advancement of Research.

The ASM award was established in 1943 to honor an executive who is active in the production, fabrication or use of metals and other materials; who has over a period of years consistently sponsored research or development, and with foresight and actions has helped substantially to advance the arts and sciences relating to materials science and engineering.

"This marks the fourth time that a GM executive has received the Medal for the Advancement of Research – the most for any company," said ASM Past President Lawrence C. Wagner, Texas Instruments (retired). "ASM is proud to recognize Dr. Burns for his extraordinary vision, leadership and perseverance in championing GM's advanced propulsion, electronics, telematics and materials technologies."

Burns' research and development and strategic planning team is driving innovation in GM's future cars and trucks with many initiatives around advanced propulsion, electronics, telematics and "smart" materials. Shape memory alloys and polymers are examples of smart materials that GM is developing for use in its cars and trucks. Smart materials are so named because they can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when they are introduced to heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage. Shape memory alloys – and polymers in particular – "remember" their original shape and can return to it, creating new possibilities for the many moveable features in a vehicle GM plans to integrate smart materials technology into its vehicles by 2010.

Burns began his GM career in 1969 on the Research and Development staff, where his work focused on transportation, logistics and production systems. He subsequently held executive positions in several GM divisions in the areas of product program management, quality, production control, industrial engineering and product and business planning. In May 1998, he was named a vice president of General Motors, with responsibility for research and development and planning.

Burns holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He also has a master's degree in engineering/public policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University).

ASM serves the materials science and engineering profession by providing scientific, engineering and technical knowledge, education, networking and professional development. Previous GM executives to receive the Medal for the Advancement of Research were Martin J. Caserio, Vice President and Group Executive, in 1982; Edward N. Cole, GM President (retired), in 1975; and Charles E. Wilson, GM President, in 1950.

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