I am 40 years old and received my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in automotive disciplines (combustion, vehicle dynamics, vehicle controls) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in December of 1993. I started work at Ford full-time in January 1994 as a powertrain development engineer. I completed my Masters Degree in Automotive Systems Engineering/Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1999.
I have been a prototypical “car guy” all of my life. I credit my dad for igniting that passion in me. He is still well known in southern Wisconsin for his engine and drag racing prowess in the 60’s.
In addition to my formal schooling, I worked ten and half years as a development engineer at Ford Motor Company from 1993 – 2004. I recently made the rather difficult decision (on some levels) to resign from Ford in May of 2004 in order to improve the quality of life for my family and in particular my son so we all could be near our extended family in Illinois. In addition, I traveled nearly sixty days per year on development trips which greatly affected my family responsibilities.
While at Ford, I worked as a transmission calibration engineer, an OBD-II calibrator and from 1996 to 2004 as an engine development calibration engineer. I was responsible for a variety of programs during my ten and a half years at Ford primarily on modular V8 programs: 4.6L / 5.4L dynamometer engine development testing, 1996 4.6L F-150 OBD-II, 1998 - 1999 4.6L 4V Lincoln Continental, and most importantly the 2000 - 2005 Mustang GTs including the 2001.5 Mustang Bullitt, 2003 and 2004 Mach1 (M/T versions) and the 2005 S197 GT.
On the 4.6L 4V Continental, I had development responsibility for the spark, linear integration knock system, returnless fuel, idle speed control, SCP, and traction control. While in the Continental assignment I got to go through the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving (in Mustangs).
In the Mustang GT group, I again had responsibility for spark and linear integration knock, all speed traction control with roles expanding into the complete development responsibilities for several programs. I thoroughly embraced the use of the Dynojet for RWHP testing and became an experienced performance test driver.
When I was given the honor of handling the 2001.5 Bullitt feature car program I had responsibility for the entire engine controller calibration. The overall success of that feature car, the first of its kind for Team Mustang, facilitated the approval of the following Mach1 program.
I had overall responsibility for the 2003/2004 Mach 1 programs (the M/T ones, of course) similar to the Bullitt.
When I resigned, I was working on electronic throttle control, spark and linear integration knock control and some variable valve timing for the 2005 S197 Mustang GTs.
By the way, a calibration engineer at Ford has the responsibility to calibrate the EEC engine controller that controls the powertrain – the engine and transmission. Basically, I am the brain behind your car's engine. I determine how much and when fuel, air, spark, torque output, etc. is delivered. It is my responsibility to ensure that your car starts and operates in Arizona at 120° F and at -40° F in Canada and all the possible conditions in between while meeting all the regulatory requirements and driveability targets. The algorithms to run the EEC are intricate. If you were to print out all of the code double-sided in 12 pt. font, you would have a stack of paper about a foot high. All of that knowledge is I my head taking up a lot of space!
The qualifications for the job are: a strong understanding of combustion and engine fundamentals, emission control, and a good grasp of control theory. Throw in some good wrenching skills, mechanical and electrical engineering, and software algorithm design/debug and voila! - you have a calibration engineer.
Ford has test sites in Bemidji, MN and Thompson, Canada (cold weather), Naples, FL (warm weather), Lake Havasu, AZ (hot weather), Denver, CO (high altitude), as well as several test tracks in Southeast Michigan (Dearborn and the surrounding area). I have also been to Yellowknife, Canada in 1997 - only a couple hundred miles south of the arctic circle at –40F and to Death Valley in 1998 at 122F. I have been to 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley to almost 15,000 feet above in Colorado. Needless to say, not many people can say they have experienced those extremes.
I now work at Caterpillar in Illinois as a controls engineer for large off-highway hauling trucks as well as leading ECM tools development across most machine platforms. It is quite a difference going from 300 HP / 340 lb-ft Mustangs to 3400 HP / 20,000 lb-ft diesel hauling trucks.
I miss being in close ties as an insider to the automotive industry as well as the daily dose of car development life, however I still maintain ties with many friends, co-workers and suppliers who I got to know while there. In addition, I am now an official Superchips custom Tuning (SCT) dealer. How fitting that the person who calibrated your Mustang for production can be the same person to custom tune it thereafter!
At any rate, enjoy the site. I hope to provide insight and interesting details of my automotive development career. Enjoy the hundreds of development pictures and feel free to email me any questions you may have.