Feb. 19-- This year's SAE congress is a turning point for Dana Corp. and new CEO Michael Burns.
SAE's annual congress runs March 8-11 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, and the engineering society has gone to great lengths to make its annual bash relevant again.
For the past several years, some of the biggest suppliers stopped exhibiting at SAE. They said it was too expensive, that they couldn't get the face time that they needed with their customers, and they couldn't properly demonstrate their best technology with competitors hovering.
This year's SAE chairman is Phil Martens, Ford Motor Co.'s group vice president of product creation for North America. Martens and other SAE leaders have tried to revitalize the show by adding events related to performance, including bringing together a panel of big names in the performance and racing realms, such as Carroll Shelby and Jackie Stewart.
Dana is back as an SAE exhibitor for the first time since 2000 and will have a visible presence. Dana is sponsoring a new technical innovation forum and has a 9,000 square-foot stand upstairs plus 2,400 square feet of floor space downstairs around the theater.
The decision to come back was made before Burns was named CEO. But the exhibit will give Burns a chance to meet the world in his new role, which officially starts March 1.
Burns, an engineer by training, will help open the congress on Monday, March 8. He plans to spend most of the day on the Dana stand greeting visitors, much as he used to do on the General Motors stand during European auto shows, when he ran GM Europe.
And how's this for coincidence? The Dana stand at SAE might seem vaguely familiar to Burns. That's because it's in a portion of the floor space that GM occupied last month during the North American International Auto Show.
But it won't be the same. This time, Mike Burns is the CEO.