“My role is to help people understand where the industry is going”
Dr. David E. Cole is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the automotive industry. Born in 1937, Cole is the son of former General Motors President and fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Edward Cole. His father was instrumental in developing some of GM’s major breakthroughs, like the small-block V8, and there is little doubt that his father’s position at GM had a strong impact on Cole’s life. Cole would attend the University of Michigan, where he would earn three mechanical engineering degrees and a doctorate. While at Michigan, Cole worked extensively on internal combustion engines and vehicle design. He would later teach engineering at the university and become the director of the college’s Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation.
In 2003, Cole helped launch the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an organization dedicated to research on important automotive industry issues like fuel economy, globalization, and manufacturing. Cole is also a former Director of the Automotive Hall of Fame and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, and has helped found numerous automotive research and education start-ups, including Auto Harvest, a collaboration website for automotive industry personnel to help cultivate innovation within the industry. Cole also helped create an organization called Building America’s Tomorrow, a non-profit organization that aims to raise funds for developing educational programs for kids in grades K-12 to create a pipeline of manufacturing talent.
Cole is especially interested in nurturing new talent on the manufacturing side of the automotive industry. “Kids don’t have manufacturing on their radar screen”, Cole said in a 2013 interview with MLive.com. “As the baby boomers retire, we don’t have a pipeline of talent to replace them. We have failed to get the message to young people about where the opportunities are in manufacturing…. We’ve gotten away from the idea that manufacturing is important.” Despite having spent a lifetime working in, studying, and investing in the auto industry, Dr. David Cole has no plans to retire, and he remains a well-respected automotive luminary.