Dr. David E. Cole  | Breakfast Meeting Guest Speaker                               

by Jacqueline Lawson

“The Auto Future: Fast, Furious and Uncertain”

David E. Cole is the Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chairman of AutoHarvest and Building America’s Tomorrow.  He was formerly Director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and an engineering professor at the University of Michigan.  He has worked extensively on internal combustion engines, vehicle design, and overall automotive industry trends. 

Dr. Cole’s recent research has focused on strategic issues related to the restructuring of the International Auto industry and trends in globalization, leadership, technology, market factors, and human resource requirements. He is chairman of AutoHarvest, an organization created to facilitate the flow of intellectual property in and out of the auto industry and within the industry. He is also chairman of Building America’s Tomorrow, an organization aimed at increasing the number of K-12 students considering careers related to manufacturing. He was formerly a member of the Energy Engineering Board of the National Research Council, the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Pact Select Panel, the NASA subcommittee on Energy and the Michigan Strategic Economic Investment and Commercialization Board.   He is also director of three automotive related companies.  Dr. Cole was formerly a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission. He was formerly co-chair of Detroit Renaissance’s “Road to Renaissance” Project in the fall of 2006.  At the University of Michigan he is a member of the Mechanical Engineering External Advisory Board and formerly a member of the Biological Station Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Denso Foundation Board and the Executive Committee of the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research. He was formerly a member of the Business Development Committee of Ann Arbor Spark. He is currently a member of the Prof. Sam Wu Manufacturing Leadership award committee.  Dr. Cole was formerly a director of the Automotive Hall of Fame, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and member of the Board of Trustees of Hope College. 

He is active in SAE, including serving two terms on the Board of Directors.  In February 1986, he was named a fellow of SAE.  He is also active in the Engineering Society of Detroit and was elected to fellow status in 1990.  In 2000, he received the Engineering Society’s highest award, the Horace H. Rackham medal. He is also a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was elected to fellow grade in 2009.  In 1993, he received the National Automobile Dealers Association Foundation’s International Freedom of Mobility Award.  In 1994, Design News selected Dr. Cole as one of eight engineering leaders, and he was also selected to receive Sweden’s Order of the Polar Star.  He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America and the World. In the summer of 2013 Dr. Cole was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, the industry’s highest honor. 

In the fall of 1998, Dr. Cole was named as the Marketing Educator of the Year by the Society of Marketing Executives.  Additionally, he received the 1998 Rene Dubos Environmental Award for his contributions to the industrial ecology of the automobile and in 1999 received the Chevalier of the National Order of Merit from France.  In addition, he received the 2008 Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cole also has been and is actively involved in the start-up of nine different Ann Arbor-based companies. His technical and policy consulting experience includes a variety of assignments for industry, labor, and government and he has spoken to more than 1000 different groups on automotive issues. He has been a judge at the Concourse d’Elegance in Michigan, a judge in the E & Y Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year Competition and a judge for the Society of Plastic Engineers, products of the year competition.

Dr. Cole received his B.S.M.E. and Mathematics, M.S.M.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctorate from Cleary University.



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