Glen DeVos (’83 MSE ME) serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer and President of the Mobility and Services Group at Aptiv.
He presented an automated driving tech talk to a packed room of U-M students recently. We took that opportunity to sit down with him and learn more about his connection to campus and priorities for Aptiv at U-M.
How is Aptiv involved at U-M?
Our connection at U-M is driven by our interest in connecting and supporting students. We fund around five scholarships every year and sponsor four student teams in Engineering, primarily around intelligent ground vehicles and other robotics clubs. Ideally theses connections help get students into an internship pipeline, and we are happy to see a high percentage of students hired as a result of all of this. We sponsor a multidisciplinary design team as well; there is a big need for people that can work across more disciplines rather than be narrowly focused.
We also are members of the Leadership Circle at Mcity, and one of the co-chairs of the Circle is actually from Aptiv. We are engaged in critical research questions around autonomous vehicles and want to collaborate with U-M and other circle members to drive solutions to this exciting field.
What is your priority at Aptiv?
As CTO, I have a clear tech roadmap for Aptiv across all businesses from a development standpoint. I make sure we are executing and communicating effectively. Ultimately that should result in Aptiv being supplier of choice for our partners.
As president of our Mobility & Services Group, my priority is to grow our business. We have the technology that enables a vehicle to be automated so they can be added to transportation networks. We want to be the tech inside that allows it to happen.
What are Aptiv’s objectives with U-M engagement?
It is threefold:
- Our presence at U-M is designed to foster a pipeline for talent at Aptiv.
- We also want to identify where we can help U-M programs focus on areas of need in industry. A big part of this is providing students with meaningful areas to connect with their careers, get good jobs and enter the workforce. As we think about engagement, we look at technology or areas of interest like that.
- There is a lot of innovation in the university environment: some in programs some in start-ups and incubators. Aptiv wants to connect there to be close to the newest technology coming out relative to our industry.
If we can check the box on all three, we have a healthy relationship with the university.
At U-M, this focuses on vehicle technology and vehicle automation, and we also broadly collaborate on industry standards and policy.
How does Aptiv see the transportation industry shifting?
The autonomous space has been transforming here in last few years. It was traditionally brick and mortar and less tech focused, but that has shifted dramatically. What we’re seeing here are three mega trends affecting automotive:
- Safe – advanced safety features
- Green – electrification and efficiency
- Connected – pipeline for what enables mobility services
These trends are changing the transportation industry dramatically. Software and technology advances are happening on the car and off the car. Anything related to vehicle software becomes a huge activity for us.
There has been a big change for how people think about cars. The technology coming to cars can be truly impactful from a societal standpoint.
What makes a good university partner?
What’s important when we think of successful partnerships it’s where there is a clear awareness or sense of thinking about commercial outcomes for the technology. When Aptiv invests a lot in technology, the goal is to take it to market and determine how can it benefit society. That commercial awareness from university partners is invaluable. The research is always interesting and important, but we want to see how it can lead to a successful commercial deployment. Strong university partnerships consider this perspective.
Where we’ve been successful, there is a strong industry liaison program at the university that understands the mechanics of the commercial world, including legal mechanics and intellectual property. They have people in position to manage oversight of our relationship and help navigate with faculty.
How has campus changed over the years?
I come back for some football games every year; it’s always so good to get back to campus.
When I graduated in 1983, U-M looked a lot different than it does today. Even though I was an Engineering graduate student, I only had one class on north campus; all of them were really in East and West Engineering on central campus. Now to come back here, there is this rich, huge space to explore.
I get a chance to sit down like this a few times a year with college students. They are so full of energy and possibilities. It is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job.
My experience at U-M and role as an alumnus has significant standing in the industry. I’m proud to say I went to the University of Michigan. It is part of who I am, and I feel very fortunate to be affiliated with this university.
For Aptiv, this is a transformative period in our industry. I can’t think of another time when the transportation industry has this much occurring. There is this energy around the possibility of new mobility models emerging; it is a really is exciting time. It is great to see so much talent coming into that space, and U-M is an important part of that.