SAE 2016 Convergence ®

September 19-21, 2016

Novi, Michigan, USA

Suburban Collection Showplace

2016 SAE Convergence Brings New Program for Tech Collaboration

Meet the disruptors, network with peers, and learn about the latest tech solutions that are rapidly changing the auto industry.

Jim Buczkowski Connected vehicles. Autonomous driving. Radical new electrical architectures. Open-source solutions. And a new wave of software-centric players rapidly transforming the mobility industry. What do these trends mean for engineers and technologists whose careers depend on staying ahead of the pace?
SAE's 2016 Convergence is a valuable place to get answers. This year's conference, themed "Personal Mobility: Creating a Smart and Autonomous Journey," will be held Sept. 19-21 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI. The more than 2000 attendees expected at Convergence will meet the disruptors, network with peers, and learn about the latest technology and software solutions that are changing the automotive business.
"We are migrating from a focus on building reliable cars and trucks to creating comprehensive mobility experiences enabled by technology," noted Jim Buczkowski, the 2016 Convergence General Chair and Henry Ford Technical Fellow and Director, Electrical and Electronics Systems, Ford Motor Co.
This "evolution in mobility engineering," he said, requires input from a broad community of partners beyond the traditional auto companies-with Convergence being a major venue for promoting such collaborations.

CTOs talk innovation
Launched 42 years ago to bring together the automotive electrical/electronics and mechanical engineering communities, the pioneering Convergence event has also evolved. Ever-popular sessions on systems engineering, embedded and off-board software, and new electronics technologies continue to anchor the 2016 event, while expert panels also bring new insights into innovation, data and analytics, user experience (UX), vehicle autonomy, and connectivity and mobility services.
"There's a lot of excitement around the 2016 program," said Jim Sherman, SAE International's Technical Conference Developer who has the Convergence lead. "First there's the Novi facility, which has a totally different vibe about it than [Detroit's] Cobo Hall, and is located in the center of tech development within the supply chain," he noted.
Sherman is enthusiastic about the new Convergence format, arranged into themes for each of the three days. Leadership Day, the first-day program for Sept. 19, kicks off with the highly anticipated Innovator's panel.
"We have the Chief Technology Officers of FCA, Ford, and GM, plus those of Delphi and Harman International. These literally are the guys making decisions on what's next in terms of technology," he said. Following the Innovators is an expert panel focusing on the electronics and tech Supply Chain.
"The supply chain has transformed itself over the last two decades and is currently transforming itself again," Sherman observed. "So as a new topic we're bringing in thought leaders from the investment world to talk about where they believe the electronics and tech supply chain is going next."
He added that SAE Convergence serves as a 'gateway' for technology companies that are established, looking to grow and enter the whole automotive ecosystem. "We provide that linkage," he said.
The Monday program concludes with the lead electrical engineers from Toyota and other OEMs discussing state-of-the-art technologies and common challenges. "We do the E/E panel every year, and it's always a big hit and audience draw," Sherman said. "We've scheduled it at the end of Day 1 so that we can capture some of the thoughts of the earlier panels and have the lead E/E's provide a somewhat shorter-term view of what the Innovators and Supply Chain experts are looking at."

6-track techfest for engineers
Engineers Day on Sept. 20, will feature deep-dive technical presentations from industry experts. The six parallel subject tracks include: Architecting to Enable and Scale; Open Source as an Enabler; People/Technical Workforce Transformation; Designing for an Experience; Technology Disruptors; and Leveraging Consumer Electronics.
"The point of Day 2 is take what we learned in Day 1 from a vision standpoint and look at how the tools and actual engineering technical piece fits in," explained Sherman. The six subject tracks are different enough between them to provide valuable takeaways for all Convergence attendees.
For the last Tuesday session, "Leveraging Consumer Electronics," the SAE team has enlisted experts from far outside the automotive realm. One of them is from Waze, the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app that allows drivers to share real-time traffic and road info.
"Hearing from Waze will be interesting because they've just been gobbled up by Google while still acting independently," Sherman commented. "It's just one example of the 'outsider' companies that will be transforming what we know as the automotive industry rather quickly."
The final day of Convergence, Wednesday Sept. 21, is industry Partner Day. The program features technical seminars and training sessions presented by SAE's partner associations and organizations who are engaged with or have a stake in the automotive electronics industry.
Included will be professional development classes with topics including mobile compliance and connected vehicle, a hands-on workshop conducted by dSpace. The day will also bring a status update from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation on its ITS [intelligent transportation systems] program plus SAE Standards Committee meetings.
Convergence has always included a focus on the 'nuts and bolts' of automotive electronics and that component continues in the 2016 program, Sherman noted. "But we're also into the externals-the integration of the vehicle into its environment and other factors that will drive future vehicle designs," he said.

SAE Convergence "stands apart in its consistent ability to expose participants to leading-edge technology and software ideas that influence our business," said Ford's Jim Buczkowski.

Embrace disruption-don't fear it!
While trends in vehicle connectivity, autonomy and even electrification have shaken up the automotive establishment, new technology disruptors are on the way. How will they impact engineering, product development, your company's business model-and your career?
Tuesday's panel of experts at 2016 SAE Convergence will share their insights on how human behavior, "cloud" technology, changing business models and the mobility infrastructure will continue to rattle the status quo and bring new opportunities. It's a must-attend two-part show:
Disruption from the West is the morning session keynoted by Saeed Amidi, CEO and founder of Plug and Play, with experts from Stanford University, Autotech Ventures and Ellis & Assoc.
Disruption from the East in the afternoon brings Local Motors' David Woessner, joined by experts from Movimento, Allianz, P3 North America, and Hitachi.
L.B.

by Lindsay Brooke, Editor-in-Chief, Automotive Engineering