Mike Duggan

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Mike Duggan is mayor of Detroit. Duggan is perhaps the area’s most successful turnaround specialist, having rescued Wayne County’s finances, the SMART regional bus system and the Detroit Medical Center from financial collapse. Since taking office, Mayor Duggan has spearheaded efforts to tackle key challenges facing Detroit, including a strategy to address the city’s ongoing blight problem, the establishment of a Department of Neighborhoods office in each of the seven city council districts, and the improvement of city lighting and EMS response times.

Prior to becoming mayor, Duggan served as deputy executive for Wayne County. In that position he oversaw 14 straight balanced budgets and a fully-funded pension system, led the effort to bring the Detroit Lions back to downtown Detroit, co-chaired the construction of Comerica Park and Ford Field, and negotiated the deal with former President Bill Clinton’s Administration that led to the construction of Detroit Metro Airport’s midfield terminal.

Clark Durant

President, The New Common School Foundation

Clark Durant-webClark Durant is president of The New Common School Foundation and co-founder, current board member, former chair and CEO of Cornerstone Schools in Detroit. Durant serves on the Excellent Schools Detroit Board as treasurer for The Skillman Foundation and is co-chair of the academic subcommittee for the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren.

Durant previously served as State Board of Education president, overseeing the development of the Board’s vision, philosophy and mission statement focused on strengthening education standards and accountability and encouraging the development of charter schools in Michigan. He earned a law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School and is a former director of PMG at Munder Capital. Durant was nominated by President Reagan to serve on the Legal Services Corporation, where he served four years as chairman.

Clay What?!?! Modelers play integral role in producing today’s automobiles

By James Amend

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Clay modeling at FCA US's headquarters in Auburn Hills was used during the design process for the 2016 Dodge Challenger

Clay modeling at FCA US’s headquarters in Auburn Hills was used during the design process for the 2016 Dodge Challenger

In an era when supercomputing has penetrated every corner of product development, one of the automobile industry’s oldest design methods continues to play a major role in making the hottest cars and trucks.

Clay modeling dates back to the heyday of American automobile design in Detroit during the 1930s, and the tools of its practitioners, clay modelers, have changed very little in 86 years. Although the digital realm has made contributions to speed up the time it takes to prepare a vehicle for the modeler’s hands, no level of computing power has yet to surpass clay in offering a 3-dimensional glimpse of a future product.

The stakes are high, too. One good clay model could be the difference between company leadership green-lighting a billion-dollar project or sending it back to the drawing board. The same could be said for car buyers, who are lured to a particular vehicle by the spirit of a design first brought to life in a sculpting studio.

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” said Joe Dehner, exterior design chief for Dodge and Ram Trucks at FCA US. “If we can make a good first impression, it works in our favor. … Everything to come out of FCA design studios here in Auburn Hills has been touched by hands. It’s reflected in our products.”

However, during the late 1990s, a trend emerged away from clay modeling. The same digital capabilities for special effects that tantalized movie-goers seeped into automotive design, and automakers began projecting life-size holograms onto their design pads. Entire vehicles were sketched out using math-based software tools. The virtual world was hailed as the new frontier of automobile design.

But Holt Ware, director of Buick exterior design at General Motors, said something was always missing in the digital realm. “You just can’t get there without the hands,” says Ware, who works in the same Warren studios of clay modeling inventor and legendary GM designer Harley Earl. “In order to get that sweetly executed surface, it’s something only humans can do.”

In fact, the promise of math-based design was once so great, Ware recalled, GM attempted a vehicle entirely on the computer. Design leadership quickly changed direction. “We got about one-third of the way and realized it was madness,” he said with a laugh. “It looked like a cardboard cutout.”

Designing with clay takes teamwork, too. Designers bring the big idea to the table and clay sculptors must interpret it into a 3-D model. They often speak different design languages, so each side has to learn the other’s jargon. They also can come from widely different backgrounds.
“They have to be joined at the hip,” Dehner said. “It’s often more words than pictures. It’s also a very free-spirited process.”

Ware compared the clay modeling work inside Buick’s studios to a family. “You might pull your sister’s hair, or she may pull the chair out from underneath you, but everyone respects and appreciates each other,” he said. “We know we need each other to get where we need to be, and we rely on each other’s expertise.”

Paul Snyder, who heads the undergraduate transportation design program at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, said nothing compares to the close relationship between a talented designer and a talented clay modeler. “That’s where great cars happen,” he said.

Some of the creative spirit can be traced to the different backgrounds of designers and clay modelers. Oftentimes, designers can be classically trained experts with a draft pencil. Clay modelers can come from other disciplines, or, as Snyder said, be gearheads with a creative flair looking for a foray into the auto industry.

Whatever their background, he explained, modelers are in high demand. Natural attrition, coupled with a new commitment to the method, has automakers, suppliers and design houses seeking them out through trade journals and word of mouth. “A sculptor who can do an entire body side in clay is as good as gold,” Snyder said.

3-D Printing is Changing the Auto Industry

In the automobile industry, where new technologies emerge every day and consumer preferences can turn on a dime, nothing is more precious than product development time, and the advent of 3-D printing has automakers shifting into high gear.

A rapid prototype technology, 3-D printing combines with proven computer-aided design tools to allow designers and engineers to quickly iterate a life-size, or scale, part without tools and at the fraction of old-school fabrication techniques. “It has made our jobs a little bit easier,” said Joe Dehner, exterior design chief for Dodge and Ram Trucks.

3-D printing uses selective laser sintering and stereolithography to quickly go from a computer model to a one-off part ready for any number of exercises, such as wind tunnel testing, a design leadership review or testing in another global region.

GM leaned on process when it created the Chevy Volt electric vehicle in 2009, and also with its EN-V personal mobility concept shown at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

James Amend is an associate editor at WardsAuto.com.

Matthew Elliott

Michigan Market President; Market Executive, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America

Matt Elliott-web

Follow or tweet @BofA_Community

Matthew Elliott serves as Michigan state president and market executive for middle market banking in Michigan at Bank of America. As state president, Elliott serves as the company’s enterprise leader in Michigan, working with company leaders across the state to help deliver Bank of America’s full range of global financial services. He also leads the bank’s corporate social responsibility activities, including philanthropic giving, community development lending and investing, environmental initiatives, diversity efforts, arts and culture projects, and employee volunteerism.

As a market executive for the Global Commercial Bank, Elliott leads a team of middle market banking professionals who leverage the product breadth, industry expertise, and global presence of the bank to deliver integrated financial solutions to mid-sized companies and institutions across Michigan. He has more than 20 years of commercial lending, capital markets and corporate finance experience. Elliott earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Craig Fahle

Director of Public Affairs, Detroit Land Bank Authority

Craig Fahle-edit

Follow or tweet @CraigFahle

Craig Fahle is the director of public affairs at the Detroit Land Bank and has more than 20 years of journalism experience. Most of his broadcast career was spent at WDET FM in Detroit. During his time at the public radio station he was a reporter, news anchor, editor, talk show host and eventually served as the general manager for programming.

He has won numerous awards for his work, which included interviews with six Detroit mayors and six Michigan governors. Fahle has conducted more than ten thousand interviews in the span of his illustrious broadcast career.

Nolan Finley

Finley Nolan 2012Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The Detroit News, where he directs the expression of the newspaper’s editorial position on various national and local issues and writes a column in the Sunday newspaper. Prior to that, Finley was the newspaper’s deputy managing editor, directing the newsroom. He previously served as business editor, and in various editing positions on the city, state and metro desks. Finley also co-hosts the “MiWeek” show on Detroit Public Television and often appears on “Flashpoint” on WDIV. In 2012, Finley was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Michael Ford

Ford_Michael

Follow or tweet @RTAmichigan

Michael Ford is CEO of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. He is responsible for carrying out the Authority’s mission and for the planning, coordination and development and operations of all of its local and regional services. He has served for more than 30 years in leadership roles for both public and private transportation entities. Prior to joining the Regional Transit Authority, Ford served as CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, overseeing its expansion into the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township as well as the expansion of a fixed-route bus service.

A Creative Craft

The Michigan Design Council shines spotlight on state’s industrial design talent.

By Jeff DeBoer

Page 40

Jeff DeBoer, vice president and principal at Sundberg-Ferar, works with students as part of the Michigan Design Council's outreach efforts.

Jeff DeBoer, vice president and principal at Sundberg-Ferar, works with students as part of the Michigan Design Council’s outreach efforts.

In 2014, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) asked Sundberg-Ferar, a Detroit-based industrial design consultancy, to define a plan to grow the industrial design profession in Michigan. The result was the announcement of the Michigan Design Council (MDC) at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. The council is made up of design thought-leaders from across the state, representing major industries, academic institutions and professional organizations.

The MDC is considered to be the only statewide organization of its kind in the country. Its mission is to establish Michigan as the premier destination for industrial designers, to nurture young talent through active engagement with students and education professionals, to help Michigan-based businesses prosper, and to encourage businesses to relocate to Michigan because of its robust, creative talent pool.

For those new to the term “industrial design,” it’s the profession that brings art and technology together in products that aesthetically and functionally enhance our lives. Michigan industrial designers lead the world in transportation design – automotive, mass transit, and personal mobility products – and thousands more products that Michigan’s industrial designers have given the world.

The impact that industrial design has on Michigan’s economy cannot be overstated. With more than 4,000 strong, Michigan has a higher concentration of industrial designers than any other state in the nation. Estimates show that every industrial designer creates eight additional jobs. Industrial designers are high-income earners; Michigan industrial designers earn, on average, $70,000 a year, more than $10,000 above the national average. The highest concentration of industrial designers in Michigan can be found in west Michigan and metro Detroit. In fact, Detroit has emerged as a global epicenter for what’s new in design.

Think of Detroit as the Florence of the Italian Renaissance, where anything can be designed and built to improve the lives of millions around the world. Events like the Detroit Design Festival are attracting global media attention, and designers are relocating to the Motor City, attracted by the spirit of design exploration and by being a place where they can afford to live and work, especially compared to other cities like New York and London.

The MDC is working hard to make sure the world understands the scale and depth of Michigan’s creative talent, and knows the career and business opportunities linked to Detroit’s resurgence. Its keystone initiative for 2016 will be the Michigan Design Prize, officially announced at the 2016 NAIAS. The goal is to celebrate and create global awareness of the exceptional Michigan industrial design talent.

The Michigan Design Prize will be a competition open to Michigan residents. Participants will tackle a single design challenge determined each year by the MDC. Design Prize entries will be showcased around the state, and winners will be exhibited at the Detroit Design Festival and other statewide events.

The Michigan Design Prize will also be used to engage with K-12 educators who want to teach design thinking and creative problem-solving in their curricula (i.e., STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math]). Creative thinking will be the most sought-after skill for our youth as they move into the workplace based on interviews with leading CEOs and respected business journals. MDC members are coaching instructors and school administrators on ways to introduce students to skills inherent to the industrial design profession.

It will take a sustained effort to maintain Michigan’s status as the place where great products are designed. As it matures, the MDC will be asking corporations, foundations, professional organizations and individuals to step forward and participate in the “industrial design talent” mission. The more who participate, the more this important state resource will help build a better Michigan for everyone.

Jeff DeBoer, Vice President-Principal, Sundberg-Ferar, Inc.; Genesis™ Innovation Strategy

 

A Night of Design: EyesOn Design and Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment celebrate automotive design talent in Detroit

By Melissa Anders

Page 34

A night of design clownAutomotive design takes center stage during the first Tuesday of Detroit’s North American International Auto Show this year.

First, the EyesOn Design Awards will recognize design excellence among concept and production vehicles making their worldwide debut at the auto show. Later that evening, budding designers will join seasoned professionals at the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment, a so-called fight club of design and underground industry party.

EyesOn Design is the auto show’s officially sanctioned awards program for design excellence. Seven awards honor the best concept car, production car, concept truck, production truck, innovative use of color, graphics of materials, interior design and the designer catalyst award. Current or retired heads of design serve as judges, representing an assembly of the pinnacle of automotive design, said EyesOn Design Chair Kathy Lightbody.

“These are people who love great design,” she said. “There’s an energy in the room when you get this many people who are at the top of their game in this industry.”

The number of contestants varies by year, but can reach around 40 depending on how many vehicles make their debut at the show. The event is funded by sponsors. EyesOn Design also hosts an annual auto design exhibition at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

kathy lightbody pull quoteWhile EyesOn Design honors industry leaders for their achievements, the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment gives students and amateurs a chance to compete for recognition alongside professionals.

Brook Banham created the event as a way to celebrate the 2012 launch of his new design firm, Middlecott Design, which he owns with his wife, Judith. That first party was well-received and has since evolved into an increasingly popular automotive design event. While not officially part of the NAIAS, it’s held during the show in order to attract those who come to town from other parts of the country and around the world, said Frank Schwartz, an automotive consultant who organizes the sketchbattle with Banham.

a night of design steven brownThe contest is open to the public, though the pool is narrowed down to 12 participants who compete to sketch the best automotive designs in front of a live audience during three 30- to 45-minute rounds. They must perform under pressure and work through distractions from emcee and performance artist Satori Circus. Most of the participants are design students eager to rub shoulders with professional designers, Banham said.

“It’s really about these students being exposed to designers who can hire them later on down the road, and talk in an informal way,” Banham said.

There’s also a cash prize, which is expected to reach four figures thanks to sponsor contributions. Past events have brought more than 500 spectators, and Banham expects the Tangent Gallery to reach capacity with 750 people this year. Schwartz and Banham said they chose the industrialist venue as a way of showcasing Detroit’s grittier underground side, as opposed to the more traditional auto show experience. It’s also a way for the general public to get involved in the excitement surrounding automotive design during the auto show.

Spectators are asked to provide a donation supporting Project Beautiful – Inside and Out, an Auburn Hills-based nonprofit that works to “build confidence and inspire hope” among those in need, particularly women in shelters.

Middlecott also hosts a sketchbattle in the fall during the Detroit Design Festival. Organizers hope to expand the events throughout the country and around the world with a championship event in Detroit.

Melissa Anders is a Chicago freelance writer.

Design Driven: Toyota’s Kevin Hunter discusses his passion for automotive design

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design-driven-kevin-hunter-toyota-photo

Toyota’s Kevin Hunter (far right) discusses design elements on a clay model with his team at Calty Design Research.

As the president of Toyota Motor Corp.’s North American design studio, Calty Design Research, Kevin Hunter and his design team create innovative designs that appeal to the global consumer for Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands.

Under Hunter’s leadership, the automaker has launched the 2014 Toyota FT-1 sports car concept, Lexus LF-LC sports coupe concept, 2013 Toyota Avalon and 2014 Toyota Tundra, to name a few.

The Detroiter connected with Hunter to explore the Detroit design community, Toyota’s global design collaboration and why automotive design is a rewarding career path.

How is automotive design changing?
The great thing about design is it’s always changing and evolving, and that’s why I love working in automotive design. There’s currently a shift in buyers’ interest in new technology and staying connected to their lives even when they’re driving. This brings a lot of focus to the interior and how to safely manage all the things people want to do in their car. Autonomous cars are, of course, one direction. It’s our job to meet those needs and discover the undiscovered areas that will make the mobility experience safe and enjoyable.

How is the design process really becoming a global exercise in some cases?
For our design teams at Toyota, collaboration is a way of life. Although our Calty team is in the United States, we contribute design to global vehicles, so we need to understand the balance of taste in order to successfully appeal to a global customer. In the past, it was easier to distinguish which car designs were from Japan, Korea or the U.S., etc., but I’m seeing more and more of a global influence developing in automotive design where someone from the U.S. can appreciate a design that is also appreciated in Europe and Japan. So, it’s important to have a global perspective when designing cars.

Why is Detroit and the surrounding region a great place for design?
Being from Detroit and having my design degree from (College for Creative Studies) I was always impressed by the fine art and design culture in the Detroit area. There’s also a long history of iconic architecture and, of course, the birth of the American car industry and American design movement originating here. There’s still a fresh, creative burst of artistic energy that’s going on in Detroit right now, and it’s a great time to be part of the design community here.

What attracted you to automotive design as a career?
Cars are in the blood for me. My father, grandfather and many other members of my family all worked in the car business. It was car talk at the dinner table, and it was just a part of life that I grew up in. Fortunately, I also loved art and drawing, and had a creative spark in me, and so it was a natural career choice. I actually wanted to become an architect at a young age, but realized how much math was involved, so I moved on to automotive design.

What would you say to a student considering a career in automotive design?
If you love cars and you have a talent for art, it’s a great career choice. First, you need to investigate transportation design programs like CCS or Art Center (College of Design) in Pasadena, Calif., that will really help you develop a skill and mindset of an automotive designer. Think outside the box, and make sure your love for design grows every day.

What vehicle or design element that you worked on are you most proud of?
There are several vehicles I’m very proud of from a pure design point of view. The most recent example is the Toyota FT-1 concept introduced at the 2014 NAIAS, and I have to say that I’m extremely proud of our design studio for designing such a stunning, heart-pounding sports car.

What is your favorite North American International Auto Show experience or moment?
I would say that it was when I got to introduce the world to the FT-1 concept car. It was incredibly exciting to finally unveil a car that our entire development team was so passionate about and one that would deliver a big message about the bold future direction Toyota is taking. We had done such a good job keeping the car under wraps before the show, so there were no leaked pictures, no teaser images, nothing. It was worth it, seeing all the stunned faces.