Michigan Engineers Stars in the Show
Of How to Rekindle State's Perception
Simply by Telling The Story
I had the pleasure a few days ago to interview Dr. Marc Kuchner, a scientist at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland and author of Marketing for Scientists, his new book. The discussion can be found on my "Re:NEW Michigan" radio show (go to lucyannlance.com and click on Re:NEW Michigan for Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
The discussion revolved around my interest in Marketing for Engineers, a book I am developing based on my work with engineers and technical people and their lack of knowledge of marketing.
We discussed how engineers and scientists in Michigan, the "nerds of the technology development equation" across our state, are good for what Michigan needs to do right now: much as new Governor Rick Snyder did in 2010. Then, he proclaimed himself "one tough nerd," a smart guy with high aptitude for technology, finance and marketing measurement and won the governorship in his first attempt at political office.
I believe Michigan's nerds, our broad band of engineers who have helped revive the automotive field and contributed across software and inventions to re-energize the new and emerging Michigan economy, can be the propellor to a new tomorrow in terms of our economy.
We are a smart state, as evidenced by the 90-100 years of successful auto industry achievements and an emerging high tech base of software, technology and knowledge firms. And a horde of a few hundred thousand smart "nerdy" engineers already contributes to the awareness of the state and its potential.
But we are not telling the world the story of our intellectual contributions as powerfully as we could. So it was with some welcome that Dr. Kuchner introduced the topic on "Re: NEW Michigan," the radio show I have been doing for several years.
The discussion with Dr. Kuchner reawakened my curiosity and focus on technology, science and space - all which came from my marketing work at Honeywell. It developed the flight control system for the Viking Lander that successfully landed on Mars in 1976 and the flight control system for the Space Shuttle which was flown in numerous space missions up through earlier this year.
"Michigan has long demonstrated enormous prowess in automotive technology; many people don't appreciate what a vast intellectual effort that is," said Kuchner.
And now, the state has research and development operations for all our domestic auto manufacturers and also for the many global R and D facilities based across the state and using Michigan's engineering prowess to advance their own technologies.
These companies are all chronicled in an informative and important book, Directory of Automotive R & D Facilities in Michigan, published by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and now in its third edition produced in 2011.
This encyclopedia of auto industry knowledge lists 330 companies in Michigan devoted to applied and basic vehicle research, testing and product development.
It includes domestic and foreign car manufacturers and how the predominant results from the R & D units come from Michigan engineers, the cornerstone of this emerging "smart state" position.
"With its unique collection of scientists and engineers I think Michigan could have a stronger international reputation as a center for innovation. Michigan fought through years of hard times-it's heroic. And it's a success story the world should hear," Dr. Kuchner said.
Here's the case:
1.Michigan has thousands of smart engineers creating and building electric cars, Improving gas mileage, making components smaller, faster, and cheaper, and introducing new, sleeker and better performing vehicles in keeping with consumer desires.
2."Nerd" has come to be a badge of honor in Michigan through the leadership of Governor Snyder, who won the Governorship in 2010 by 18 percent partly because he proclaimed himself to be "one tough nerd."
3.What steps do we take to propel the Michigan economy forward?
* Tell stories of how R & D engineers reinvent the state as they come up with faster, cheaper, smaller and better ways to design and build vehicles.
* Use our pent up mass of engineering talent to demonstrate a state full on "smart nerds," working together to reinvent Michigan.
* Host forums and events that demonstrate our prowess in engineering - and create the perception of Michigan as a state filled with "smart nerds, revitalizing the state together.
* Stake a leadership position in becoming a state able to recover from our earlier economic morass and lead the way to a new economic environment.
Larry T. Eiler