Micky Bly: Reinventing the Automobile with Chevy Volt

 Editor’s Note:  Micky will be sharing his love for advanced propulsion at the Year 2 Finals of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a three-year collegiate automotive engineering competition that challenges 16 North American universities to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles by minimizing the vehicle’s energy consumption, emissions and greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining its utility, safety and performance. From May 15 – 26, 16 teams competed in various inspections, presentations and performance reviews at GM’s Yuma, Ariz.,  Proving Grounds. Awards will be handed out at the House of Blues in San Diego on May 27.


Micky Bly, Executive Director, Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries

Bus driver, move that bus!: One of my biggest passions is renovating houses. It gives me the opportunity to put my engineering chops to the test in a different way and really helps me wind down after a long day.  I’ve remodeled two vintage houses including my current home in Pleasant Ridge, Mich., built in 1912, which won a beautification award from the city in 2006.

Nerd Alert: I love cutting-edge sci-fi and adventure movies. I count Star Wars as one of my favorites (don’t judge!).

Bookworm:I’ll read anything by Clive Cussler, the great American adventure novelist. His stories are exciting and keep you guessing until the end. I guess it doesn’t hurt that he’s a car collector, too.

Put me in, coach!: I love playing any sport, though I can’t say I play any of them well.

I grew up in Augusta , Georgia – home of the Masters Tournament. Even though I’m still a southern boy at heart (I still miss great sweet tea), I consider myself a Detroiter – maybe it’s because I felt drawn to the heart of the automotive industry.  With a passion for tearing things apart, figuring them out and putting them back together, I decided to study mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. After a four-year stint as a student intern, I began my full-time career with GM in 1990, as a Powertrain Development and Validation engineer.

Over the last 19 years I’ve been doing a lot of tearing apart, figuring out and putting back together.  One of my first assignments was with the Small Block V8 engine group, where I was the Lead Development engineer for the iconic Corvette Small Block V8 engine. We were able to take a very good engine with a lot of history and make it a great engine with more performance and reliability.

In 1997, I made my way across the ocean to England to work as an Engine Management Systems engineer for the Ecotec L4 – GM’s global four-cylinder engine program. This was my first experience with working towards making globally sustainable transportation a reality.

After a second global assignment in Germany, I moved around in Powertrain back in Michigan until 2006, where I became the director of Global Hybrid Integration and Controls where I managed teams responsible for the development of our multiple hybrid vehicles. We made sure all of the components – from the engine, transmission, brakes and batteries to the computers and the software that run electronic controls – came together seamlessly and as a result, I’m proud to say, our work was recognized with honors like the 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, which was named Green Car Journal’s “Green Car of the Year.”

Today, I oversee the development of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt’s vehicle integration and battery development – yet another big step towards sustainable transportation. What does that mean? Well, I’m responsible for the strategy, planning and execution for most things electrical on our vehicles. Right now, the Volt is where we are focusing the majority of our attention. It’s exciting for me to see a car that, just a few years ago, was only a concept and now I’m part of team that’s working to bring it to market. I’m so proud of how much the team has evolved. The talent that has been brought on board is amazing. We have the best and brightest working around the clock to ensure this vehicle will be a success.

I feel so blessed to have a career I love and family that supports what I do. In fact, I think I may even have two future engineers on my hands. My eight-year-old son Ethan is already a car buff and he can’t wait to see which new car I’ll bring home. He greets me with a huge smile and a curious twinkle in his eyes that I recognize very well!  And my ten-year-old daughter Emily is already talking about engineering school.  Who knows? Maybe someday they’ll both be working on a new concept vehicle that could change the industry and make their old man’s work seem obsolete.

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