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Industry Diversification: Defense Meets Automotive

February 26, 2020

The 2020 MichAuto Summit brought two major industries together to discuss pathways to collaboration in a panel featuring Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Michigan and Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber Tammy CarnrikeDirector of Next Generation Combat Vehicle for the U.S. Army Futures Command Brigadier General Ross Coffman, and President and CEO of Safety Technology Holdings and Humanetics Innovative Solutions Christopher O’Connor 

Host of “Autoline” John McElroy, who moderated the panel, asked O’Connor how companies like Humanetics can become suppliers to the military. 

“It’s challenging in terms of identifying what the need is and how to apply that product, and then how to be competitive with the other players,” said O’Connor. 

Much of what already exists in companies also exists in the military, added Coffman. He shared that he wants to see more of Detroit and Michigan become involved with partnerships and collaborations. The autonomous vehicle space is huge for the military here, he noted. 

More than 60 years ago, Humanetics was developing aircraft ejection seats, said O’Connor. Most of the original products the company created were military based. 

“I spent 35 years in the army and in the army reserves,” said O’Connor. “Our introduction into the military and trying to work with developing products for injuries was near and dear to our background.” 

McElroy discussed with Carnrike how her role as civilian aide ties into her Chamber positionAs civilian aide, Carnrike is the eyes and the ears in the state of Michigan for the army, she explained. Her job is to help with recruitment and look for new opportunities for collaboration with the business industry, particularly automotive and manufacturing.  

“Most people don’t understand that the US Army is like a very large corporation,” said Carnrike. “Bringing in my Chamber job and understanding our business community through our MichAuto program, there’s such an opportunity for cross pollination.”  


Thanks to Kettering University for sponsoring this session.