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April 13, 2005

USA: US engineers need to be trained more like Asian and European counterparts – Lutz

GM executive Bob Lutz said Tuesday that US carmakers could streamline their design process if American engineers were trained more like their Asian and European counterparts.

GM executive Bob Lutz said Tuesday that US carmakers could streamline their design process if American engineers were trained more like their Asian and European counterparts.

“We are actually training our engineers to be managers while the rest of the world trains them to be doers,” Lutz said during a speech at the annual conference of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit, according to an AP report.

Lutz said Asian and European engineers are trained in drafting and can draw a new design on the spot when they run into problems, the report said. However, US engineers often need to call in designers to do the drawing and may take weeks to figure out a solution, he said.

“It’s somewhat bureaucratized, and it’s a slow process,” Lutz said. “It’s because we don’t have the bone-deep understanding of what’s in there and the ability to draw and model without pulling in a bunch of specialists.”

Lutz said fewer youngsters grow up working on cars and playing with Erector sets, which give them the intuition they can’t get from computers or mathematical models.

“Today everything is prepackaged and ready to go,” Lutz reportedly said. “Worse yet, a lot of the tinkering that used to be done on cars is now prohibited by federal emissions regulations, in that everything is tamperproof.”

Lutz said GM has been trying to combat the problem with a three-year-old program that trains engineers, including some in the middle of their careers, to do their own drafting.

“It’s going to take a while to get all our engineers through this program, but believe me, it’s going to be worth it,” Lutz said, according to the AP report.

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