CMU Silicon Valley welcomes Dave McLellan

Date/Time: October 6, 2015, 1:30 pm (PT) / 4:30 pm (ET) 

Location: CMU Silicon Valley Campus: Bldg 23, Rm 118

Dave McLellan

Source: Dave McLellan

Chief Engineer for the Corvette at GM

A Systems Engineering Approach to the Car, its Driver and its Infrastructure in the Digital Age

A number of years ago, in an interview with Automobile Magazine, Jim Press the head of Lexus, described how he communicated with his engineers who were charged with creating the future of Lexus. Paraphrasing, first, get to know your customer and their likes and dislikes about their automotive experience. Then minimize the negative and maximize the positive aspects of that experience.

Here are some big negative and positive problems that can be solved.

  • Our urban highways are parking lots.
  • Auto deaths are down but still amount to a loaded Boeing 747 going down every week.
  • A production ZR-1 Corvette set an FIA World Endurance Record of 175.886 mph for 24 hours covering 4,221 miles. Going that far and that fast in a production car is doable.

We’re well into the digital age where problems can be explored and solved in ways we never even imagined before. Let's talk about highways and cars in that context.

Dave joined General Motors Proving Ground Noise and Vibration Lab after graduating from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. His assignments had him working on the dynamics of cars, trucks, military tanks, and then manager of the newly-completed Vehicle Dynamics Test Area (Black Lake).

Dave's career then took him to Chevrolet where he led the team that finished the 70 1/2 Camaro development, then to the GM Technical Center to manage John Delorean's unsuccessful attempt to marry the Camaro and the Corvette platforms. In 1973, he was picked to attend MIT as a Sloan Fellow. On his return he was assigned to work with Zora Arkus-Duntov and on Zora’s retirement at the end of 1974, Dave was appointed Corvette Chief Engineer. Dave would be indelibly linked with the Corvette for the next 17 plus years. The all-new 1984 Corvette continued to be developed with advanced electronics and culminated in the 405 hp ZR-1.

In what turned out to be his last development of the Corvette, Dave challenged an R&D team to design a next generation Corvette capable of ZR-1 performance, but at standard Corvette prices. Charged with the impossible task of making the Corvette faster, lighter, roomier and more rigid as a convertible, the team adopted the backbone architecture that would be the hallmark of the C5 and C6 Corvettes. Dave retired from General Motors in the fall of 1992.

His recent consultant activity includes: Intermap Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Mosler Automotive, BAE, TACOM, ERIM, Rosen Motors, Tel Tech, Bose, Intermag Technologies, Technologies M4 and Porsche Engineering Services.

He is the author of a recent book, “Corvette from the Inside, the 50 Year Development History” which includes the 17 years during which he and his team made history.

Dave has a website where he podcasts about the Corvette and other subjects interesting to him. Visit:

Dave also consults in the legal field as an automotive forensic expert and expert witness. Visit:

Dave is a recipient of the SAE Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation and is an SAE Fellow. He was recently inducted into Wayne State University’s Engineering Hall of Fame. He is also in the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame and the Bloomington Gold’s Great Hall.