JOHN ALLISON: FORD ENGINEER USES SOFTWARE TOOLS TO PREDICT PERFORMANCE OF PARTS

JOHN ALLISON: FORD ENGINEER USES SOFTWARE TOOLS TO PREDICT PERFORMANCE OF PARTS

  • John Allison is senior technical leader for Ford Metals
  • He develops computer models that can predict how vehicle parts will perform in service while they are still on the drawing board, and he researches new materials for components
  • Allison resides in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he plays an active role in local government

Using advanced computer software that he helped to create, John Allison can accurately predict how vehicle powertrain and body parts will perform before they are even built. 

“I love the scientific aspect of understanding what makes materials tick,” said Allison, senior technical leader in Metals.  “Through the use of computer modeling, we can simulate combustion pressures, loading on the engine block and engine temperatures, and actually foresee how metal components will behave in service.” 

Being able to predict and prevent unforeseen failures in the product development cycle saves precious time in the vehicle production process and eliminates the need for repeated, costly testing of parts. 

Another aspect of Allison’s job involves researching and developing new materials for parts.  “We’re doing a lot of work with magnesium, which is the lightest weight metallic element for both powertrain and body applications,” he explained, noting the link between lower vehicle weight and improved fuel economy. 

The work of Allison’s team with magnesium led to the development of a lighter-weight liftgate for the 2010 Lincoln MKT, which is constructed from a combination of magnesium and aluminum, making it approximately 40 percent lighter than if it was made from standard steel. 

Since the bulk of his work involves research, Allison says one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is seeing one of his projects appear on a new vehicle. 

“It’s very exciting to see our components on cars and to know that we have an impact on what the consumer is driving and are improving the sustainability of our vehicles,” he said. 

Personal Insights and Fun Facts

  • Twenty-five years ago, Allison moved from Baden, Switzerland, where he was a visiting scientist at Brown Boveri Corp., to take a job with Ford; he has been with the company ever since.
  • When he’s not at work, Allison enjoys dabbling in local politics.  He has served on the Ann Arbor Township Board of Trustees for the past 12 years, addressing a variety of issues including farmland preservation and reducing the influence of new development on the environment. 
  • Allison’s concern for the environment is also clear from his research at Ford.  He helped eliminate 160 pounds from the recently announced Ford 6.7-liter diesel engine. 
  • Allison and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Mich.  They have one son who is a journalism student at Michigan State University.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

Oct. 1, 2009

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