AUBURN HILLS, MI – In another sign things are returning to normal at post-bankruptcy Chrysler, engineers are getting a pat on the back again.
For 14 years beginning in 1994, the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award was handed to individuals or teams who developed innovative applications. While honors were doled out to all individuals who landed approval from the U.S. Patent Office, four finalists were chosen from among those recognized each year for particularly outstanding contributions.
That practice, ended in 2008 when the auto maker was controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, was revived this year with a ceremony last week at the auto maker’s historical museum.
“I think it’s a huge boost for morale,” Mircea Gradu, vice president-powertrain, transmission and driveline engineering, tells WardsAuto.
“The definition of accomplishment for an engineer is actually related also to the number of patents. When it comes to patents, the most rewarding thing is that they are applied and that they are making it to the actual customer.”
This year’s winner was Powertrain Synthesis Manager Mark J. Duty, awarded for his work on what Chrysler calls a Powertrain Matching Analysis Toolset. The application helps pair engines with transmissions that lead to increased savings for the consumer.
PMAT, as it is known internally, was integral in mating the auto maker’s new 8- and 9-speed transmissions to powerplants in Chrysler’s portfolio. The 8-speed transmission with a VM Motori-built diesel engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, for example, is one iteration of PMAT.
Other finalists include a team that created the “Rambox” storage system for Ram 1500 pickup; a team that developed a process that predicts battery temperature while reducing system cost and complexity; and a group that worked on collision-avoidance technology that led to the introduction of the auto maker’s Rear Cross Path detection system.
“The career path of the people who generate things is really what we’re all about,” Bob Lee, vice president-engine and electrified propulsion, tells WardsAuto. “Sometimes it’s late night, sometimes it’s a weekend, sometimes it’s individual, but we all come together for the same end.”