Friday, March 24, 2017

On the Go with Gregg Peterson . . .

Lessons in Lightweight Materials


By: Gregg Peterson


My name is Gregg Peterson, and I’m on a mission to inspire the usage of lightweight materials as I assist U.S.-based SMEs. What drives this passion? I’ve devoted my career to the advancement of the technology and have repeatedly witnessed its benefits—from long-term cost savings to major reductions in fuel consumption.

As the industry evolves, my enthusiasm for educating and mentoring the next generation of engineering pioneers escalates. Part of this process includes speaking to the talented SAE-sponsored university racing teams. Join me on my journey to help propel lightweight innovation. Let’s go . . .

Inspiring Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) University Chapters

The Center supports the SAE University lecture series which highlights the many challenges of meeting the 2025 emission and fuel economy requirements. As part of my job, I constantly review new technologies available to meet these standards including lighter materials, cutting-edge joining methods and alternative manufacturing processes—all of which I am eager to share with engineering students on college campuses across the nation.

Driving Innovation at Kennesaw State University

I was honored to present my first SAE lecture at Kennesaw State University, located near Atlanta, Georgia. Kennesaw State, formerly Southern Polytechnic State University, has 35,000 students and a state-of-the-art engineering building complete with well-equipped labs. What I found to be even more impressive than the facilities were the students.


The Kennesaw State SAE Formula race team has about 50 members, most of whom attended my lecture. I centered my presentation on a specific vehicle study that is funded by the California Air Resources Board and utilizes steel, aluminum, magnesium and composites to achieve weight savings while doubling the torsional rigidity of the baseline steel SUV. My material included animated crash simulations for the multi-material SUV that is 40% lighter than the baseline steel intensive vehicle. These crash simulations include 35 MPH frontal (FMVSS 208), side impact (FMVSS 214), roof crush (FMVSS 216) and 50 MPH rear impact (FMVSS 301). It was great to see so many eager students ask me questions.


Following the lecture, I had the pleasure of going on a tour of their facility and race garage where they were designing the next generation KSU race car. I saw first-hand how lightweight ingenuity is taking shape at the collegiate level. The team has designed and built virtually every part of the car, including the frame, suspension and carbon fiber body panels. They’ve printed plastic 3D parts from their CAD files and trial fit the parts prior to machining them in metal. With the engine dynamometer, they fine-tuned the power output, and in the aerodynamics lab, they refined airflow for cooling and drag. I spent several hours with the team reviewing their latest improvements for the upcoming race season and offered some helpful suggestions.

I want to extend a special thank you to Sarah Carter, the race team captain, for coordinating this wonderful visit. I think it was an insightful experience for everyone involved.

The Good News Continues

The Center has donated the SAE honorarium to the Kennesaw State race team. This means that The Center is now an SAE Formula race car sponsor! This talented group of students will make this contribution go a long way.

Until next time…


Meet Our Expert

Gregg Peterson
Principle Materials Engineer

Throughout his 40+ year career, Gregg has embodied the true spirit of engineering innovation and excellence. An accomplished engineer, inventor, mentor of emerging talent and successful entrepreneur, Gregg brings an impressive array of expertise and enthusiasm to every endeavor he pursues. His expertise includes ferrous and non-ferrous body structure design and originality, aerodynamics, software controls and manufacturing. Gregg is dedicated to increasing the efficiency of any machine including: cars, planes, wind turbines, agricultural equipment and military fighting vehicles. To read Gregg's full bio, visit: www.the-center.org.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

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