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Non-Traditional Talent

Visteon’s Kyle Entsminger brings an array of skills as innovation manager

Pages 30-31

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

A lifelong car enthusiast, Kyle Entsminger is happy to be back in the automotive capital of the world working in the industry and making use of the talents he honed in very different industries in cities far from home.

His current role as an innovation manager at Visteon Corp. is a career Entsminger never could have predicted growing up as a Detroit Catholic Central High School student, who in the late ’90s was an athlete with a singular focus.

“As far back as I could remember, all I really wanted to do was play football,” Entsminger told audience members at the 2014 MICHauto Summit. “I had never even taken an art class until my senior year at Catholic Central.”

Having put off this required art class as long as possible, Entsminger was an upperclassman when — thanks to a dedicated teacher — he realized that not only did he have an artistic interest, but also a genuine talent.

“My teacher submitted two of my pieces to the national Scholastic Art competition,” he recalled. “Both earned Gold Key (awards).”

When Entsminger’s football career came to a sudden halt after he blew out his knee, Entsminger knew his new dream would involve his newfound interest. Talent Visteon’s Kyle Entsminger brings an array of skills as innovation manager By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

“I had heard updates on a family friend working in Los Angeles as a compositor doing visual effects in the film industry,” Entsminger said. “That kind of work sounded interesting to me.”

At the time, the largest school for the study of visual effects was the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Entsminger applied and went on to major in 3-D computer animation with an emphasis in visual effects.

Upon graduation, Entsminger moved out West and worked for four years as a compositor, which involves bringing together computer-generated imagery and live-action footage. Some of the wellknown films he worked on included “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “The Chronicles of Riddick.”

In 2005, Entsminger moved to Dallas to work with a college friend on indie films being shot in Shreveport, La. He was able to work as a compositor and an onset supervisor alongside the director while also supervising post-production work. During this time, Entsminger also spent time working at a commercial postproduction facility, an experience that led to producing a segment of GameStop’s instore television program. The experience drove him to partner with a friend to create a video game of their own.

However, Entsminger and his business partner lacked a publishing partner who would allow them to bring the game to market. A second major hurdle was that they were not approved developers on major video game platforms. Perseverance eventually yielded a relationship with a small publisher and the platform approvals they needed to market the partners’ first commercial title, “Alien Monster Bowling League” for the Nintendo Wii.

This success empowered Entsminger and his partner to start a studio. The duo successfully ran their own company for five years before losing a major contract and, ultimately, their business.

Having depleted his life savings, Entsminger contemplated his next move. Home for the holidays in late 2010, he observed the renaissance taking place in and around Detroit.

“I saw lots of cool opportunities for revival,” he said. “I knew that with my skill sets, I could somehow be involved.”

Entsminger packed up and moved back to Michigan a few months later. While he didn’t have any career plans lined up, he knew he wanted to be part of Detroit’s growth. Not long after his return, Entsminger attended a party where a friend mentioned that another friend was searching for someone with video game development experience.

That friend was T.C. Wingrove, senior manager of global electronics innovation at Visteon. Entsminger interviewed with Wingrove at Visteon’s Van Buren Township campus. The interview ended DETROITER December 2014 31 with an on-the-spot job offer. And it was a decision he doesn’t regret. “Visteon has its own studio inside the innovation group,” Entsminger said. “I can do full-scale software development. We run like an independent company.”

One of the first projects he worked on involved the production of a dual stereoscopic display cluster.

“The idea was to look at ways to make the cluster appear more three-dimensional,” he said.

The cluster debuted at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show to positive reviews. Entsminger has since led a team of artists and programmers to design and develop facets of a number of key digital solutions to enhance the in-vehicle experience. Among them is Visteon’s new OASIS cockpit concept designed to integrate a driver’s custom profile to a vehicle’s infotainment system, its Human-Machine Interaction (HMeye) concept that enables drivers to select certain controls via eye movements and head motions, and Visteon’s Horizon cockpit concept that leverages a driver’s hand gestures, as well as touch, to transform how the driver interacts with internal controls including audio and navigation.

The success of Entsminger’s work with Visteon has enabled him to hire a team of employees comprised of contacts from his time working in the film and video game industry both in and outside Michigan, and several recruits from the video game department at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies.

“It hasn’t been hard to recruit film and video game talent to work at Visteon,” Entsminger said. “We show potential employees the cool things we’re working on. They see that work-life balance is a reality.”

Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann is a metro Detroit freelance writer.