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DATE: Nov. 15, 2005

UM-Dearborn seminar to look at the future of the automobile

DEARBORN--- Four leading international scholars and experts will discuss “The Future of the Automobile” in a seminar at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the UM-Dearborn Social Sciences Building.

Featured speaker will be Daniel Sperling, a leading international expert on transportation policy and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. Sperling’s talk will be followed by a roundtable of scholars and industry leaders including automotive historian and Fulbright Scholar Gijs Mom; retired Daimler-Chrysler executive Gordon L. Rinschler; and Rudi Volti, professor of sociology at Pitzer College.

“These speakers have very distinct and valuable insights in automotive technology and will be able to provide a valuable look at the future directions of the industry,” according to Jonathan Smith, director of the Science and Technology Studies program and professor of English at UM-Dearborn.

The seminar is one of the products of a new consortium of UM-Dearborn, the Henry Ford, the University of Detroit-Mercy and an international scholarly group, the Society for the History of Technology, to work together on programs to examine the history of technology and its impact on society and culture.

“This is part of our effort to become more connected to the metropolitan area and to collaborate with other institutions in the region,” Smith said. Smith and economics Prof. Bruce Pietrykowski, director of the campus’s Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, have led UM-Dearborn’s involvement in the collaboration.

“The consortium brings together three institutions that share a commitment to studying this region’s technological history, and exploring the impact of that technology on the rest of the world,” Smith said. “We’re looking at the past for its implications for the present and the future.”

Sperling is professor of civil and environmental engineering and of environmental science and policy at UC-Davis. He has testified numerous times before Congress and various government agencies, is founding chair of the Alternative Transportation Fuels Committee of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, and serves on many advisory committees and boards for environmentally oriented organizations.

Mom, Visiting Fulbright European Union Scholar in Residence at UM-Dearborn’s Center for the Study of the Automotive Heritage, is associate professor in the history of technology at the Technical University of Eindhoven, in the Netherlands . His book, The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age, won the 2005 Cugnot Prize from the Society of Automotive Historians for the best book on auto history published in the previous year. He is also the editor of the Journal of Transport History.

Rinschler, now principal of a private consulting practice, has more than 35 years of experience in the automotive industry. Before his retirement from DaimlerChrysler in 2002, he was responsible for conventional power trains as well as alternatives such as Chrysler’s EPIC ( Electric Powered Interurban Commuter) electric minivan. As vice president leading DaimlerChrysler’s “Family Vehicle Product Team,” he also led the platform teams responsible for the Chrysler Pacifica and the 2001 Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, and Plymouth Voyager minivans.

Volti has written numerous books and articles on the history of technology, including Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology, The Engineer in History, and Society and Technological Change. He is also a member of the advisory board of Technology and Culture, a scholarly journal published by the Society for the History of Technology and sponsored by UM-Dearborn, the Henry Ford and the University of Detroit-Mercy.

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The University of Michigan-Dearborn does not necessarily endorse speakers’ views.

 

 

 

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