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Duty wins revived Tech Award, Dourra gets Lifetime Achievement

by Jennifer Harrington on

duty

Chrysler Group announced the first new Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award to be given since 2008; it is awarded to those who hold Chrysler Group’s most impressive patents. This is the first time the award has been given since 2008.

Mark J. Duty won the award for his work on the Powertrain Matching Analysis Toolset (PMAT), which cuts the need for physical testing of engines and transmissions, automatically optimizing powertrain and vehicle combinations. PMAT helped determine the eight-speed automatic transmission’s pairing with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.

Duty graduated from Lake Superior State University (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) and joined Chrysler in 1996. This is his second W.P.C. award, the first being shared in 2007 for the cylinder-deactivation system used on the Hemi.

The W.P.C. Technology Award was first given in 1994; the judges are over than 80 Chrysler experts and previous award winners. This year, the panel chose four finalists from among 244 nominated patents approved between 2007-12. All employees whose patents are approved by the U.S. Patent Office receive an honorarium and a plaque from Chrysler; winners of the award receive a medallion and ribbons attached to their plaque. Their names are also etched onto a trophy displayed at the Auburn Hills headquarters.

In addition, Chrysler Technical Fellow Hussein Dourra has been named winner of the Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation for 2012. The annual prize recognizes a Society of Automotive Engineering member whose lifetime accomplishments are deemed to be original, innovative and significant.

Dourra, 55, joined the company in 1982 and currently leads the advanced powertrain controls team. He holds 22 U.S. patents and five international patents and helped pioneer the industry’s first electronic transmission controls. Dourra was the first beneficiary of the company’s Technical Fellow program, earning the title in 2007.  In 2008, he shared the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award for his work on an algorithm that enables precise control of multiple shift elements. The breakthrough sparked the evolution of a six-speed automatic transmission that generated cost savings of an estimated $360 million. The company also became the first North American auto maker to introduce a six-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel-drive applications.

Chrysler is the only North American auto maker to produce vehicles with 8-speed automatic transmissions, and is on track this year to launch the world’s first vehicle equipped with a nine-speed automatic.

Another of Dourra’s patents that saw production is an algorithm that helps monitor critical operational parameters such a clutch temperature. It is used in the award-winning Ram 1500 pickup.

Award committee chairman Jim Grady said, “Our committee was especially impressed by the number of Hussein Dourra’s ideas that made it through to vehicle production.”  Dourra is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he earned a Ph.D in engineering and Master’s degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Business Administration. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University, where he also serves as a guest instructor for graduate-level studies.

Dourra will receive his prize during the SAE 2013 World Congress, April 16-18. Sergio Marchionne will deliver the keynote address.


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