Automation Alley Senior Director Cynthia Hutchison named to Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Women in STEM

TROY, Mich.— May 28, 2019 — Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, is pleased to announce that Cynthia Hutchison, senior director, has been recognized on the Crain’s Detroit Business list of Notable Women in STEM. This report salutes acclaimed women professionals who demonstrate excellence and encourage further professional development within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The distinguished visionaries on the list were selected based on their career accomplishments, involvement in civic and non-profit activities, and mentorship of others in the field. Crain Content Studio worked with advisors in STEM to review nominations and select the final honorees. Hutchison’s profile can be viewed here.

As Automation Alley’s senior director, Hutchison has spearheaded multiple efforts that have helped shift the organization from its Oakland County tech hub roots to a recognized global leader for Industry 4.0—or the Fourth Industrial Revolution of smart and connected factories that converge cyber and physical systems. Under Hutchison’s leadership, Automation Alley has become Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, convening thought leaders including the World Economic Forum and serving Michigan’s manufacturing ecosystem during this time of rapid technological advancement.

As senior director, Hutchison has helped to introduce several STEM-related programs to Automation Alley’s offerings, including the popular Tech Takeover event series, which provides Automation Alley members an opportunity to showcase their expertise on smart technologies for Industry 4.0 while preparing the supply chain for the digital revolution. Hutchison also helped introduce Automation Alley’s new MI Smart Factory Tour, which gives college students working towards STEM degrees the opportunity to tour Michigan smart factories and learn about new cutting-edge technologies while simultaneously giving manufacturers accessibility to potential future employees.

In addition to these programs, Hutchison also championed a new collaborative approach between industry, academia and government for Automation Alley’s signature Technology in Industry Report and brought in major sponsors for Automation Alley’s global Industry 4.0 conference, Integr8, which, now in its third year, will be moving to Detroit’s Cobo Center in November to accommodate skyrocketing popularity.

“Cynthia Hutchison brings a multi-faceted strategic focus to Automation Alley,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley executive director and CEO. “At the heart of it, Cynthia is a STEM connector who maximizes her innate ability to identify issues and offer solutions. Through introductions and business partnerships, generating new Automation Alley programming, and commanding Automation Alley events and sponsorships, her creativity and strong business approach have helped elevate our organization within Michigan while bringing us to the global stage.”

In 2006, Hutchison was named one of 13 “Michiganians of the Year” by the Detroit News for her efforts on behalf of Band of Angels, an international advocacy and support organization she founded for educating, employing and providing inclusive opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome, autism and other cognitive impairments. Hutchison started Band of Angels following the birth of her son, Jordan, in 1989, who has Down syndrome.

Hutchison holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa. She is a resident of Rochester Hills.

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a nonprofit manufacturing and technology business association and Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, with a global outlook and a regional focus. We connect industry, academia and government to fuel Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation. We offer programs, resources and knowledge to help our members grow and prosper in the digital age.

Our Mission
The mission of Automation Alley is to position Michigan as a global leader in Industry 4.0 by helping our members increase revenue, reduce costs and make strategic decisions during a time of rapid technological change.

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Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein Speaks with MICHauto Investors in Town Hall Meeting

MICHauto hosted a virtual town hall meeting with investors featuring guest speaker Jason Stein, publisher of Automotive News. Stein discussed the automotive industry’s economic outlook and global recovery amid the COVID-19 crisis with Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah and MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr

OEMs were able to use countries like China hit with COVID-19 earlier as a playbook to prepare for the U.S. to do the same months later, explained Stein. Now that factories are beginning to reopen, Michigan is looking to other parts of the world that already went through this process to guide best practices. 

“Just this week, suppliers and automakers could consult a playbook that was formulated in other regions of the world,” said Stein.  

North America, while more of a patchwork of decision making with state and local governments when it came to their COVID-19 response, companies could implement those actions quickly. Aside from a couple of minor cases, the transition has for the most part been problem-free from a manufacturing standpoint, said Stein. 

While ridesharing and mobility as a service were gaining popularity before the pandemic hit, Stein said he predicts a return to the personal car – as it was 10 or 20 years ago. People are uncomfortable in enclosed spaces, with many reluctant to even step onto a plane. 

Stein noted that vehicle sales in May are already higher than anticipated. This demonstrates pent-up demand due to social distancing. Although, only a quarter of car buyers planning to purchase a vehicle before the pandemic hit are still planning to purchase immediately. Currently 15% have canceled their plans, and the rest are delaying indefinitely.  

If there is not a roaring comeback, the biggest threat is the prolonged effect of COVID-19.” 

Fortune: This Fortune 500 company’s ‘reopening playbook’ is available for free—and has been downloaded 25,000 times

Fortune

May 18, 2020

By: Lee Clifford

Fortune 500 companies have myriad strategies to protect their most sensitive trade secrets. They guard them. They insure them. They enlist experts to encrypt them.

What they don’t do, generally speaking, is give them away.

But these are not ordinary times. Earlier this spring, Lear, a global supplier of auto parts based in Detroit (No. 166 on the Fortune 500), spent thousands of employee hours compiling a comprehensive manual on how to resume operations in the wake of COVID-19. Then the company gave it away for free. Lear’s Safe Work Playbook, available on its website, has now been downloaded more than 25,000 times since it was posted on April 6.

View the full article here. 

Manufacturing Set to Reopen May 11, MICHauto Advised Governor on What Industry Needs

Today’s news from the Capitol marked a big win for MICHauto’s role as the unified voice for the entire automotive industry and supply chain. Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order allows manufacturing to resume on May 11, and included a ramp-up period MICHauto advocated for earlier this week.

Gov. Whitmer’s press release included a quote from Glenn Stevens, MICHauto’s executive director of MICHauto, and vice president of the Chamber’s Automotive and Mobility Initiatives.

“MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber applaud the Governor for her continued steps to safely re-open our economy. Automotive and manufacturing is not only the backbone of our regional and state economy, it is essential to the functioning of the global supply chain. This is good news for Michigan and the nation.”

Earlier this week, MICHauto sent a letter to the Governor advocating for a minimum five-day period for suppliers to restart prior to OEMs so that they could start shipping parts needed for OEM production to commence efficiently.

“Unlike their OEM counterparts, many firms that comprise the automotive supply chain lack the vast resources to make the necessary production, process, and policy changes required to adapt to the new environment in short order. These firms will need additional time to make their workplaces safe for employees and positioned to ship product allowing OEMs to restart,” Stevens wrote.

Under Executive Order, manufacturing facilities must adopt measures to protect their workers from the spread of COVID-19.

Manufacturing facilities must also train workers on, among other things, how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or suspected or confirmed diagnosis, and the use of personal protective equipment.

All businesses in the state—including manufacturers—must require masks to be worn when workers cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from others, and consider face shields for those who cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other workers.

MICHauto Helped to Facilitate New Partnership Between City of Detroit and Honda

Glenn Stevens Jr.

While the City of Detroit’s COVID-19 cases continued to rise in early April, a new problem arose – how to safely transport sick Detroiters without transportation from theirs home to the hospitals to receive care? With more and more front line workers testing positive for COVID-19 as well, first responders were not able to keep up with the logistics duties.  A number of volunteers that could transport people stepped up, but without a way to protect the drivers from those who were ill – it would just create a larger problem for Detroit that quickly became a hotbed for the virus.

Mark de La Vergne, the chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit, put out a call for help.  The question posed to the vast mobility ecosystem in Detroit was, “could we connect the City to a company or solution for this problem?”

On April 15, as I was scanning the latest global automotive industry news, I noticed an article in the Channel News Asia website titled “Honda deploys it’s minivans to transport virus patients.”  In that article I saw a solution for our community here in Detroit. Honda Motor Company in Japan had modified 50 Odyssey minivans with a protective barrier and changes to the HVAC system to protect the driver from the sick citizen in the rear of the vehicle.

I immediately sent this article to de La Vergne at the City and suggested that a colleague in Detroit who works for Honda Communications would be the best and most effective channel to elevate an inquiry from the City of Detroit. It seemed like just the solution we were looking for.

This past weekend, de La Vergne notified me that the City followed up on the potential solution and a partnership was in the process of being forged.  View the full partnership announcement here.

For the past three years MICHauto has helped lead several partnerships to convene organizations and groups around common themes and needs for the automotive and mobility industry to help solve problems through information sharing.  One of those groups is the Detroit Mobility Coalition, a joint effort by the City of Detroit and MICHauto that convened OEMS, suppliers, foundations, economic development groups, startups, and neighborhood associations to focus on transportation and mobility technologies and solutions to improve the lives of Detroiters.

The communication that transpired the last couple of weeks to help bring this Honda solution to Detroit is just one example of how Detroiters innovate through mobility and global automotive technology to solve problems and come together.

Glenn Stevens Jr. is the executive director of MICHauto and the vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.


Detroit-area Residents will be Transported to COVID-19 Testing in Modified Honda Odyssey Minivans

DETROITMay 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Honda today delivered 10 Odyssey minivans to the City of Detroit that have been specially outfitted to transport people potentially infected with COVID-19, as well as healthcare workers.  To protect the health of the driver from the potential for droplet infection during transportation, the Honda Odysseys have been retrofitted with a plastic barrier installed behind the front seating area, as well as modifications to the ventilation system to maintain an air pressure differential between the front and rear seating areas.

Honda delivered 10 Odyssey minivans to the City of Detroit to transport local residents and healthcare workers to COVID-19 testing.

These Honda vehicles have been specially outfitted with a plastic barrier installed behind the front seating area and modifications to the ventilation system to help protect the driver from potential infection during transportation.

After seeing news reports about similar specially equipped vehicles modified by Honda in Japan, officials from the state of Michigan and the City of Detroit approached Honda in the U.S. in mid-April about the possibility of acquiring similar vehicles for use in transporting local residents and healthcare workers to COVID-19 testing.  A team of volunteers at Honda’s R&D center in Raymond, Ohio, including senior engineers and fabrication experts, quickly conceived and designed a method to modify the U.S. Odyssey at the Honda R&D Americas vehicle development center in Raymond, Ohio, where it was originally developed.

“As of today, the City of Detroit has tested over 20,000 residents and employees for COVID-19.  Transportation is a critical component of ensuring every Detroiter has access to a test.  We are very appreciative of Honda for choosing Detroit to deploy these newly modified vehicles,” said Mayor Mike DugganCity of Detroit.

The team of Honda engineers and experts in Ohio took the project from the initial concept to completion in less than two weeks.  All material fabrication and installation, and adjustments to the software for the Odyssey’s ventilation system, was done entirely in-house.

“We’re very proud of the efforts made by Honda engineers in Ohio to quickly devise a plan and modify a small fleet of Honda Odyssey minivans to support the people of Detroit in the face of this unprecedented global pandemic,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “This project is one of many initiatives being undertaken by Honda and our associates to support communities throughout the country during this very difficult time.”

The Odyssey minivan modified in Japan is a smaller vehicle than the eight-seat U.S. version of the Honda Odyssey that was designed, developed and engineered in the U.S. and is made exclusively at a Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama.

“Several members of our team have family members or friends working in the medical field to battle COVID-19 or know people who have family members battling COVID-19 infection and this became a very personal challenge to help potential victims and their families,” said Mike Wiseman, senior director for Strategic and Materials Research of Honda R&D Americas, LLC, who led the project.  “At Honda, we believe the purpose of technology is to help people and make their lives better and we were humbled to make this commitment to potentially help save lives.”

Odyssey Modification Process:
Honda engineers in Ohio installed a sealed clear polycarbonate (plastic) panel between the front seat compartment and rear two-row seating area by removing the handgrips on the structural roof pillar (B-pillar), behind the first row, replacing it with new brackets to attach the clear panel.  A second attachment bracket was fabricated and attached to the lower front seat belt anchor point for a total of three secure attachments on each side.

In conjunction with the installation of the clear polycarbonate barrier, the Odyssey’s ventilation system software was tuned to maintain a more positive pressure zone within the front compartment to establish a designed air pressure differential between the front and rear seating areas, greatly reducing the potential for droplet infection migration during transportation.

Honda R&D engineers in Ohio designed the software that controls the ventilation system on the current-generation Odyssey. This core knowledge enabled engineers to tune the software to assure the air pressure differential is compliant with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for negative pressure rooms in medical and research facilities.  Specifically, the software is tuned to run the blower motor powering the fans in the front seating area faster than the fans for the rear seating area. The resulting air pressure differential creates a more negative pressure chamber in the rear seating area, with rear compartment air exhausted out the vents in the rear of the vehicle.

Comments from State of Michigan Officials:
“When we developed our transportation service to the COVID-19 testing sites, we quickly realized that a lack of separation between the driver and passenger would be a limiting factor in our capacity to transport patients. This innovation from the Honda team will be critical to transporting passengers during this time,” said Mark de la Vergne, Chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit.

“Honda’s speed in addressing this challenge, paired with Detroit’s willingness to find and detail a use case for Honda, made this a model public-private partnership. The state’s goal is to conduct 15,000 tests a day. This kind of ingenuity will help us get there faster,” said Trevor Pawl, Senior Vice President at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and head of PlanetM, the state’s mobility initiative.

“As the conveners of the Detroit Mobility Coalition in partnership with the City for the past several years, MICHauto is committed to facilitating connections such as this to benefit our communities. This partnership with Honda in a time of crisis, is an ideal example of the importance of our mobility ecosystem to connect our local and state leadership and the automotive and mobility industry together. MICHauto is pleased to play a role in helping to facilitate this information and technology transfer,” said Glenn Stevens, Executive Director, MICHauto and Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber.

Honda Response to COVID-19:
Honda has undertaken several initiatives to harness the spirit of the community in responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Honda has teamed up with Dynaflo Inc. to produce diaphragm compressors, a key component of portable ventilators that are used in hospitals and by first responders to help those stricken with the COVID-19 virus. The companies aim to produce 10,000 compressors per month once production reaches capacity.
  • Honda associates have been deploying the company’s 3D printers to produce components for face shields at various company operations, with Honda engineers now working on a method to mass-produce the frames for face shields in Honda facilities.
  • Ten Honda facilities in North America donated over 200,000 items of Personal Protective Equipment to support healthcare providers and first responders, including gloves, face shields, N95 protective masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear.
  • Honda has pledged $1 million to address food insecurity in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, providing donations to food banks and meal programs.
  • Honda also has initiated a COVID-19 Special Matching Gift Program that enables associates to make monetary donations to food programs in their local communities, matching up to $1,000 for each individual associate. The matching fund is in addition to Honda’s $1 million pledge.

About Honda in North America
Honda established operations in America in 1959 and today employs more than 40,000 associates in the development, manufacturing, and sales of Honda and Acura automobiles, Honda power equipment, Honda Powersports products, the HondaJet advanced light jet and GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines.

Based on its longstanding commitment to “build products close to the customer,” Honda operates 19 major manufacturing facilities in North America, working with more than 600 suppliers in the region to produce a diverse range of products for customers locally and globally. In 2019, more than 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

Honda also operates 14 major research and development centers in the U.S. with the capacity to fully design, develop and engineer many of the products Honda produces in North America.

Honda R&D Americas employs more than 2,000 associates in the U.S. in the research, design, development, and engineering of a variety of products including cars and trucks, ATVs and side-by-side vehicles and power equipment products. About 1,500 engineers and other staff are employed at the R&D center in Raymond, Ohio, located about 40 miles west of Columbus.

SOURCE Honda