Tag Archives: Chattanooga

Volkswagen, E week, and Engineering the Future – by Deborah Levine

The Future of Electric Mobility:
Volkswagen’s North American Market

Volkswagen
Dr. Burkhard Huhnke

Engineers from regional corporations, agencies, universities, schools, and professional associations, came together to kick off Engineers Week 2017 at The Chattanoogan conference center.  Planning for the future was the theme of the Kick-Off Lunch featuring Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, Senior Vice President of e-mobility at Volkswagen America, Inc. Chattanooga is home to Volkswagen’s USA manufacturing plant and it was fitting that Dr. Huhnke shared Volkswagen’s transformation into the era of digitalization. Dr. Huhnke initiated and implemented Europe’s largest test laboratory for automative battery packages and components, worked on Volkswagen’s e-traction projects, e-Golf and e-Up, and currently oversees the product line of Volkswagen’s electrical cars in North American.

Hunke launched e-week 2017 with his presentation, “The Future of Electric Mobility: Volkswagen’s North American Market.” He explained that Electric Mobility combines electrical driving with connectivity and is how transportation and mobility are evolving. Volkswagen is changing and has already launched electric cars. The next generation of VW cars will revamp the entire company as it reflects and adjusts for societal changes.

As Hunke outlined those societal changes, the audience nodded and smiled in understanding and agreement.
1. We are always online. For drivers, this can be dangerous. The fatality numbers on the road are rising. We have to ensure that that distracted driving doesn’t continue.
2. Digitization increasingly connects everything. Transportation is adjusting as companies like Uber emerge and edge out traditional models.
3. Entrepreneurship generates new competitors, such as Tesla, that bring into the market with electronic cars and autonomous driving to the market and widespread public use.

The future that is emerging includes alternative transportation possibilities that will challenge us physically and emotionally. Will we continue to own our own cars? Will we share car ownership? Will drones provide public transportation? Going forward, engineers will be needed to work through all of these challenges and changes.

Volkswagen’s goal is to position itself as the driving force behind electrical mobility. Starting in 2020, Volkswagen will launch a new family of electric cars. By 2025, VW expects to sell one million electric cars. This means a new architecture for the cars: no combustion engines and no plug-in hybrids. It requires getting the internet into the car.

The new Mobility-Service-Eco-System Cars will have a fast-charging battery with a large range. These new batteries will be flat, simple, scalable, and inexpensive. The design gives the extra space back to the driver.

As intelligence is integrated into the car, its features will be continually updated. The e-platform will launch features automatically and integrate users demands and choices. Volkswagen is now researching how to make the design user-friendly across multiple cultures. An understanding of cultural differences is part of making the intelligence applicable whether in New York, Paris, or China.

There will be a shift in the business model to get in front of the consumer more efficiently. Traditionally, the manufacturer and the car dealers partnered in the sale of the cars. In the future, there will be new opportunities, new business players, and new revenue streams, including subscription services. Accommodating customers request for full connectivity through their internet access, the cars will provide fresh software, new features, updates, and the latest apps. Tomorrow’s cars will be “smart devices on wheels.”

One of Hunke’s goals and of the e-week events is to inspire young people to become the engineers of the future. With academic colleagues, Dr. Huhnke initiated the Volkswagen Innovation Center (VAIL) at the Stanford University Campus. He was the project leader for the autonomous car Volkswagen Passat Junior, participating in the Pikes Peak hill climbing driverless Audi TTS. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Advisors at the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the U of TN Chattanooga (CECS at UTC).

engineeringE-week’s connection to education and young people was highlighted at the conclusion of this kick-off event by featuring the presentation of scholarship funding by Chattanoogan companies and organizations to local education institutions. Later in the week, Lulu Copeland, Chattanooga E Week committee coordinator and Executive Director, Economic & Workforce Development at Chattanooga State Community College, planned STEM Girls Day on her campus. The program reflects ongoing efforts to involve young women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The STEM Girls Day and all the organizations involved in E Week, from corporations like Volkswagen to civic groups such as the International Business Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, illustrate how a small Southern City can be at the forefront of our innovative future.

Expats and their Families – by Deborah Levine

Expats Chattanooga Style

The attendees at the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce were a diverse mix of nationalities, professions, expats, and industries. The annual meeting of the IBC, the Chamber’s newest council, attracted students, family members, colleagues, and executives. The diverse crowd illustrated the broad participation in Chattanooga’s national and international booming growth. (Photo by Suzanne Ocsai)

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Interfaith Response to Violence – by Deborah Levine

A few years ago, Chattanooga was traumatized by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. After shooting at a recruiting center, he drove to a U.S. Navy Reserve Center and opened fire again. Before he was killed by police in a gunfight, four marines and a navy sailor were killed. The FBI determined that the shootings were inspired by terrorist propaganda. Chattanooga responded with memorials across the area and an interfaith service that was memorable, inclusive, and high-profile in a city with little interfaith infrastructure.

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DIVERSIFY in Chattanooga – by Deborah Levine

For the third year, the Chattanooga area Chamber of Commerce hosted its Diversify marketplace, showcasing the area’s growing number of diverse vendors and connecting businesses of all sizes. The luncheon and its speaker are highlights of the event, coordinated by the Chamber’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. This year’s speaker was Valoria Armstrong, the first African American and female president of Tennessee American Water. Hundreds of civic leaders packed the banquet hall, enjoying the food and some networking time as they waited for the speaker.

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Economic Trends: A Dialogue with the Fed – by Deborah Levine

The Federal Reserve and Chattanooga Discuss National & Global Economic Trends

A Federal Reserve Director of Regional Economic Information Network, Galina Alexeenko, recently spoke at the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  Alexeenko is an international economist, headquartered in the Fed’s Atlanta office and connected to its five branches in the Southeast region. She participated in an interactive discussion with fellow international economist Anton Demenchuk, president of the IBC. The meeting was supported by the Office of International Programs and the College of Business /University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and sponsored by AIM/Career Link. Alexeenko shared her personal perspective on a wide range of fiscal and economic topics with the audience of educators, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders.

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International Business Trends: A Chattanooga Story

Chattanooga is one of many small and medium size Southern cities to see its business trends shaped by an influx of international companies. Their impact has greatly influenced the direction of the South’s economy. They have generated elevated job expectations, developed new vendors, expanded exporting efforts, and are changing the local education system.The most recent meeting of the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Alnoor Dhanani, President of Double Cola USA, and Nick Wilkinson, Deputy Administrator of Economic Development at the City of Chattanooga.

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STEM Women Stories – by Deborah Levine

Women GroundBreakers Storytelling

The push to attract women to STEM education and careers is gaining steam, but the impact is questionable. Young women have ample cause to be discouraged given the decrease of the number of women professionals in many STEM fields. Bucking the trend, efforts to encourage women to embrace STEM have increased dramatically. Those efforts span the country, including in Tennessee where Chattanooga’s Women GroundBreakers Storytelling featuring women in STEM.

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Women GroundBreakers: Stories of Immigrants – by Deborah Levine

Chattanooga’s Women GroundBreakers Storytelling Series

We began with a session on immigrants. Introduced by entrepreneur Denise Reed, three women who immigrated to the US and Chattanooga shared their stories, followed by Dr. Lisa Clark Diller, Chair of History & Political Studies/ Southern Adventist University. Diller explained, “Historians collect stories over time and then try to draw conclusions about them, so I hope to make some general observations here about women and immigration in Chattanooga—which are set in the larger U.S. historical context.”

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Globalization on Campus: A Chattanooga Case Study – by Deborah Levine

Educating for Going Global

The International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a panel of educators who have much to teach us about globalization. IBC speakers often represent the international businesses that have flocked to this small Southern city. This month’s speakers spoke of how higher education is at the heart of our growing local-global connection. Their new initiatives, and in some cases, still emerging programs, aim to simultaneously bring greater numbers of international students to local campuses while globalizing Chattanooga’s students through study abroad.

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The Power of Words and a Nudge – by Deborah Levine

Where better to hear a speech on The Power of Words than at a library? That was Tom Griscom’s topic at the annual meeting of Chattanooga’s public library board of directors. I couldn’t resist joining them atop four floors of books, DVDs, and periodicals. Griscom had revitalized my passion for writing almost a decade ago. As editor and publisher of The Chattanooga Times Free Press, he created a cadre of community correspondents who reported weekly on events in their neck of the woods. I hemmed and hawed when first contacted, but the young reporter got me when she said, “C’mon. You know you want to.” Yes, I did, for years, and never regretted it.

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