Feb. 25-- Remember when the not-invented-here syndrome was the bane of would-be automotive inventors?
Right into the 1990s, there was an insolent attitude among most automakers that if one of their engineers didnt think of an idea, it was worthless. Most outsiders couldnt seem to get past the front door with ideas for improving fuel economy or safety or anything.
Since then, some automakers and suppliers have outsourced engineering work and in the process become a lot more receptive to technologies that they didnt create.
Now Dana Corp. has thrown open its doors.
The supplier is using a blurb on its Web site (dana.com) and ads in successive Sunday editions of The Detroit News and Free Press to invite inventors to submit their ideas.
As of yesterday, Dana had received 120 responses.
The ad says Dana is always looking for new ways to address challenges in fuel economy, emissions, driveability, ride & handling, mobility, predictive performance & safety, recyclability & sustainability plus noise, vibration, & harshness.
Dana promises to review the ideas and have a few finalists present their inventions to a panel of Dana engineers at the companys stand during the SAE congress. The best ones will be shown off to the media.
There are bound to be a few kooky ideas. There always are. But along with some of the inventions that seem goofy, there might be an idea that can explode into a useful invention.
The classic example is Robert Kearns, who was inspired to invent intermittent windshield wipers after injuring one of his eyes with a champagne cork on his wedding night. He patented a design for intermittent wipers in 1967, and tried to peddle his idea around the industry. But as an outsider, he never got a licensing deal.
Kearns later sued a host of automakers, claiming they stole his design. He collected $10.2 million from Ford Motor Co. and $18.7 million Chrysler Corp.
Dont hurt yourself, but if you have a brainstorm youd better hurry. This Friday, Feb. 27, is the deadline if you want your idea to be reviewed in time for SAE.
Hey, you never know where it might lead.