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Cherokee AWD engineers win award

by David Zatz on

This year’s Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award goes to four engineers whose design paved the way for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s all wheel drive system. Don Schmanski, Mike Nemeth, Joe Kubina, and Pete Jarzyna hold U.S. Patent No. 8172712, which covers the power transfer unit and associated components to allow a transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive-architecture setup with a capable all wheel drive system. The patent describes a reduction hub controlled by a range selector with high, low, and neutral settings, which engages a planetary gear assembly to drive a transaxle’s output shaft. 


Forty panelists and prior award winners review all granted patents each year for the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award, first bestowed in 1994; senior management then selects a winner.

Mr. Schmanski was also part of a team in the runners-up, who worked on a rear wheel drive AWD setup which includes a segment-exclusive transfer case and front-axle-disconnect capability. Other top finalists included:

  • Ron Kaip, Dave Bargiel and Steve Swailes for U.S. Patent No. 8182016, a seat assembly that is easily manipulated to face front or rear
  • Jerald P. Roach, Jeffery L. Geill, David F. Hirschmann, Richard Kleinhoffer, Richard Holland Jr. and Claude Bou-Waked for U.S. Patent No. 8096044, for setting the door and quarter-glass in a convertible vehicle body, prior to the assembly of the convertible top

Chrysler Group gives an honorarium and plaque to all employees whose patents are approved by the U.S. Patent Office. Winners of the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award receive a commemorative medallion and have ribbons affixed to their plaques. Their names also are etched on a trophy displayed at Chrysler Group headquarters.

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