DEARBORN -- Ford is the host company for the 2010 SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) World Congress April 13-15 at Detroit's Cobo Center. Ford Vice President Paul Mascarenas, general chairman of the 2010 event, is spearheading an effort to provide more value for members at this year's gathering, which will include a focus on industry-leading sustainable technologies. Mascarenas discusses changes to this year's Congress and what the event means to the industry.
Q. What are the main objectives of this year's SAE World Congress?
A. We want to make sure we have a very high-quality event that generates a lot of value for the participants. We organized it around three central elements – quality, collaboration and sustainability -- that are embodied in this year’s theme, Ecollaboration.
Above all, we want to showcase the industry’s leading-edge technologies and illustrate how those technologies can support sustainability. We also want to emphasize the value for greater collaboration between the industry, the academic world and other stakeholders. Finally, we want to accomplish these goals while recognizing the very different economic environment we face today.
This year’s Congress will be shorter and more focused. There are fewer but more relevant exhibitors. Everything about the heart of the event – the technical papers, panels and speeches – will be more focused this year.
Q. Who benefits from the event?
A. The engineer is the primary target group. But the industry’s technical leadership and the corporate interests that make the industry possible are critical, too. We wanted to create value at all levels.
For engineers, that means technical papers, technical sessions and exhibits. Then there’s the networking and ability to meet with the leadership among suppliers, especially for overseas-based companies. Next are the panel discussions, which target leadership issues and initiatives. We’ll have a supplier panel this year for the first time that will help OEMs and Tier One suppliers connect on commercial and business issues. Finally, from the corporate level, we want to give companies exposure to promote themselves through technical papers and exhibits, and also to provide value to their employees.
Q. What are some of the key challenges facing the auto industry?
A. They include the impact of automobiles on the global economy and our environment, the implementation and application of new technology, shifting demographics among drivers, and the differing needs in mature and emerging markets.
Q. How can SAE members help provide answers?
A. We have an opportunity to lead the development of solutions. We have a responsibility to identify the most likely courses of development and help the industry rally around the most desirable future state.
This will help us establish a leadership role and form a consensus on our direction, which, in turn, will lead to more efficient execution as all parties drive in a similar direction and develop compatible solutions.
We won’t leave in three days with all the answers, but we can leave knowing that we have taken the first step.