2017 SAE Atlanta Spring Event is Huge Success

2017 SAE Atlanta Spring Event is Huge Success

SAE Atlanta’s Vision is:  “To be Georgia’s premier aerospace, commercial vehicle and automotive society by adding educational value and networking opportunities.”  This vision became a reality on March 29th at the SAE Atlanta Spring event when over 135 students, leaders and executives came together to learn more about the rapid innovation of the sports car industry, network with industry leaders and see some really cool cars. The event was held at the GTRI Conference Center at Ga Tech.  

The SAE Atlanta Race Week wraps up with success



Comments from our board members:


"The SAE Atlanta Race Week Event was amazing and impactful for our engineers, local colleges, and our chapter. We held two events one at Georgia Tech and the other at The University of Georgia where over 150 engineering students from Auburn, Ga Tech, UGA, and Kennesaw State learned about working for OEM’s within racing and best practices for real world job opportunities. Dean Case with Mazda Motorsports was our guest speaker at both events and he was amazing connecting motorsports and engineering. The SAE Atlanta Chapter offered free tickets to the IMSA Petit Leman race at Road Atlanta where Dean showcased the Mazda Mx-5 Cup program and the engineering behind the new Mazda Mx-5 race car. The 3 total Race Week was a huge success and I am extremely happy with how our local engineering students engaged, enjoyed, and learned from all involved."

- Kirk Fordham


"The weather was beautiful for race week.  Students and enthusiasts alike gathered in strong numbers at the front gate to Road Atlanta.  A short walk to the Mazda Motorsports trailer allowed us to chat about the event and get to know a few of the attendees.  Racing Analytics and GB Racing provided a brand new MX-5 Cup car so that Glen Long of Long Road Racing could give us an overview of the development & production process for this vehicle.  The car was up on jack stands so Glen could show off some of the finer bits underneath and around the car.  After that, a quick hike over the footbridge brought us to the IMSA tech inspection tent for a presentation from Geoffrey Carter, IMSA WeatherTech Sr. Series Technical Manager, and Kirk Fordham, Sr. Director Technical and Quality Excellence for DEKRA Racing.  There we got a glimpse into the IMSA Inspection process and discussed the Balance of Power (BoP) method employed by IMSA.  Following that, we were able to roam the paddock and track to take in the MX-5 Cup race while enjoying local track fare.  Many thanks to all who coordinated this effort - it was a blast!"

- Andrew Lennon


Blow Up the Existing Board: a story of how the SAE Atlanta Section reinvented itself

Like many organizations that require volunteers to be the lifeblood of its future, the SAE Atlanta Section had slowly drifted into obsolescence losing its energy, passion and direction over the past decade.  To be fair, the slow economy, lagging technology and overall shortage of excitement in the transportation industry made it difficult for the SAE Atlanta Section to thrive.  But times have changed and Atlanta is now the center of the southern automotive ecosystem with 14 OEM’s and 300,000 employees within a 500 mile radius.  Technological breakthroughs are at an all-time high as connectivity, drivetrains and lightweight materials are redefining the industry and creating real possibilities like autonomous vehicles. As a result, it was imperative for the SAE Atlanta Section to reinvent itself to provide a high quality of value and service to students, professionals and industry.

First things first:  “blow up the existing board!”  

Yes, that was my comment to the board chair after being asked to sit in on a board meeting.   The board meeting was like attending a funeral, except there wasn’t an agenda or any emotion – everyone was dead!  The breaking point was highlighted in a comment from an existing board member, “I have served my time, and therefore don’t assign me any action items.”  It was clear that a new board was needed, one in which the members are enthusiastic, active and connected to the industry and people that SAE serves.  

Since this meeting, the SAE Atlanta Section has added nine new board members and kept three from the prior board.  The board boasts representatives from Tesla, Kia, Porsche, DeltaWing Technologies, Lockheed Martin as well as service providers and Tier 1’s such as Dekra and Temel Gaskets. Passion is now a cornerstone of the board.

Second item on the “to do” list:  Develop a Vision that the board will embrace and aspire to achieve.  

The SAE International has a great Vision and Mission, and the Atlanta Section adopted the international mission statement.  However, the Vision statement needed to be personalized for Atlanta.  Therefore, “To be the premier aerospace, commercial vehicle and automotive society by providing educational value and networking opportunities” is now the vision and inspiration that drives each and every effort made by board members.  

Connecting with students and members via a strong social media network was step three.  Although I am a firm believer that face-to-face is still a great form of communication, it is impossible to be effective without a strong social media network that can accommodate schedules, large geographical locations and cultural generations.  The challenge was best achieved by recruiting a brilliant board member with great IT and social networking skills, and who also happened to be a millennial. Today this person serves as VC Communications and is responsible for the development of communication methods that are easy, flexible and informative to a broad base of approximately 400 members.   

“If there is value, then people will come” is our fourth key to success.  

Students and professionals have extremely busy schedules.  However, it all boils down to priorities and if the value isn’t there, neither will be a good turnout for events.  The SAE Atlanta Section has worked hard developing a model for success to host events that are attractive for students and professionals.  Here are some tips that have worked well.

  • Recruit dynamic keynote speakers that are current with industry trends and technology.

  • Offer an opportunity for students to meet and converse with industry professionals.

  • Stage technology to be showcased at an event.  

  • Utilize greeters and event workers to make sure things flow smoothly and that participants feel welcomed.

  • Have snacks and drinks available.

  • Offer door prizes.  Note: board members are great about having access to items that can be used for door prizes.

  • Communicate and advertise the event many times in advance within and outside of the SAE.  Non-SAE members attending are great candidates for future membership.

  • Partner with other organizations to increase attendance and networking opportunities

  • Utilize a sign-in sheet so that follow-ups and future announcements can be made.

  • Provide a suggestion box for attendees to submit ideas for future events, speakers and process improvements.

The SAE Atlanta Section is well on the path to a bright future and fulfilling the vision.  The attendance of major events has more than tripled!  The value that is now provided has enabled the section to solicit sponsorships, thus funding services and events that are free for students and attendees.

The SAE Atlanta Section’s success began with the formation of a board that is enthusiastic, active and connected to the people and industry that it serves.  Last but not least, it is now fun and rewarding to be a part of the SAE Atlanta Section.  


Contributed by Mike Stonecipher

Board Chair

SAE Atlanta Section


SAE International President Visits Atlanta

On Monday, April 18, the SAE Atlanta Chapter hosted SAE International President, Cuneyt L. Oge, at their quarterly meeting. The meeting took place at Georgia Institute of Technology, a leading university for burgeoning engineers in many different fields. Several Formula SAE team members from Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University were in attendance. The event showcased impressive cars from Porsche Cars North America and DeltaWing Tech. 

Cuneyt gave a thought provoking presentation entitled, “Stretching the Horizons: Preparing SAE for a Disruptive Future.” The discussion centered around how differently the world will function by 2050, based on his predictions from current patterns in technological innovation. He aims to find ways to make SAE become more relevant to people, society, and engineers. Cuneyt stated that this is only the “beginning of a dialogue.” He is hoping to increase SAE membership and build a valuable connection between SAE and leading tech innovating companies like Google and Apple. 

Car Travel in the Future

Cuneyt explained how auto-mobility is changing regarding how we power vehicles. The way we drive is shifting to focus more on where we drive and ownership of vehicles is also changing. Since 1800, mobility has increased 1,000 times. This has given people more freedom and created an automobility ecosystem.  By 2050, the world will have 9 billion inhabitants, with over 2 billion vehicles on the road. Air composition will increase to 450 ppm CO2 and 2°C at the very least. In order to reach this minimal estimate, cars would need to get 180mpg, and for now, that is outside the realm of possibility. We could help reduce environmental damage by using low carbon fuel and alternative power vehicles. Today there are 75 models of alternative power vehicles. So many people own cars, yet the average person only uses their car 5% of the time, despite all the money spent purchasing and maintaining a vehicle. Now, companies are working to develop more efficient means of transportation.

Beyond Automobiles…and Earth

According to Cuneyt, not only will transportation change, but so will the structure of society. By 2050, there will be 50+ megacities and supercities. China is currently making plans for the next supercity, that will house a whopping 120 million residents.. Automotive OEM suppliers are predicted to shift to mobility service providers while independently owned cars and trucks will compete more heavily with rideshare services. This will increase efficiency, while reducing waste and environmental contamination. Oil and gas will be supplemented with low carbon biofuels. Finance  and insurance responsibilities will be more influenced by megacity and supercity representatives, while federal and state regulations will be replaced by global regulations. And finally, we will witness the emergence of civil space business like space touring, spaceports, and new jobs in space traffic management.

Benefits of Joining SAE

SAE’s mission is to bring scientists and engineers together to promote advancements in automotive engineering, commercial vehicles, and aerospace technology. In addition to his role as President of SAE International, Cuneyt also serves on the board of directors for DeltaWings Technologies. He has worked for companies including A. T. KearneyBooz Allen & Hamilton, and the Olin Chemical Corporation. Cuneyt founded PWC’s PRTM Management Consulting’s Automotive, Aerospace, and Industrial Business Group and served  on the SAE Foundation board for 10 years. Temel Gaskets’ Director of Business Development, Tunc Kip,  is on the board of the Atlanta SAE Chapter. The Atlanta SAE Chapter actively hosts meetings featuring dynamic speakers and attracts diverse crowds ranging from seasoned industry professionals to college students. The Atlanta SAE Board works diligently as a team to bring the best speakers to Atlanta and host engaging events. Not only are the Atlanta board members innovative and cooperative, they come from a variety of different companies, including: Porsche North America, Delta Wings Technologies, ABLYamaha Motor Manufacturing,Temel Gaskets USA, Rinnai America Corporation, KIA MotorsGeorgia Tech Enterprise InnovationTesla Motors, andRubbermaid. Without the involvement of our dedicated board, none of the progress made by SAE Atlanta would be possible. In addition to local events, the annual SAE World Congress brings together top leaders in the automotive industry. This year’s participants included engineers, management teams, academics, consultants, government officials, and industry executives. The attendees got a first look at new technology trends, access to networking events, professional development seminars, and a 2-day career fair. 

We encourage you to join your local SAE chapter, or reach out to the organization and take steps to start a chapter if one does not already exist.