DEARBORN - Stefan Pototschnik remembers a time not too long ago when it was easy to not only recognize the other workers at Ford’s Advanced Engineering Center in Dearborn, but know their names and maybe even a little bit about them.
That’s because in the last five years Ford has doubled the size of the team working on fuel-saving technologies like EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline engines, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles globally.
More than 1,000 people are now part of the team working on some aspect of Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup that includes Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.
The team has taken over most of the 285,000-square-foot Advanced Engineering Center (AEC). And with Ford’s plans to continue investing in its electrified vehicle lineup, the team is only going to get bigger as more people are hired.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Pototschnik, program management supervisor for the Focus Electric. “Not only are there more people on the team and in the AEC, but there is a tremendous amount of experience from the wide array of diverse backgrounds. There is never a lack of fresh, innovative ideas.”
The new jobs are part of Ford’s plans to add more than 12,000 hourly and salaried jobs by 2015 in the United States. The company also has announced it is tripling production capacity of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the U.S. next year compared with 2011.
“From Fusion with EcoBoost and Fusion Hybrid to Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid – each of these cars will help customers save money at the pump,” said Kevin Layden, director of Ford Electrification Programs and Engineering.
Layden said the amount of work needed to deliver such an impressive lineup is the main reason the number of engineers working on Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup has grown so rapidly and now takes up most of the Advanced Engineering Center.
The Ford Advanced Engineering Center is located within the company’s Henry and Edsel Ford Research & Engineering Center, the 500-acre technical complex in Dearborn that opened in 1953 and serves as the home for research and engineering efforts.
The AEC was constructed on the research campus in 1993 as part of an $84 million project that centered largely on noise, vibration and harshness testing with several state-of-the-art labs within.
That changed in 2009. As Ford’s investment in electrified vehicles like Fusion Hybrid increased, so did the size of the Sustainable Mobility Technologies team behind it, said Chuck Gray, Ford chief engineer, Global Core Engineering Hybrid and Electric Vehicles.
The rapid growth has not only brought together a large group of talented and smart engineers, it has brought together innovators from diverse backgrounds. Many have experience in aerospace working on jets, rockets, missiles, satellites and unmanned aircraft. One engineer even spent time in the driver’s seat of the Goodyear Blimp.
There also is an Emmy Award winner, an individual who was presented an award from retired Army Gen. Colin Powell for outstanding performance and excellence, and another engineer who helped develop Intel’s Pentium processors.
“Working with such a diverse group makes it exciting and fun to come to work every day,” said James Gibbons, Ford’s manager of Battery Units for Hybrid Vehicles. “With this group, we never run out of fresh ideas or new ways to provide our customers with better fuel efficiency.”