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Alumnus Greg Hubbard Stays on Cutting Edge of Auto Technology

May 30, 2014

CAA-Hubbard

Automotive Innovator: Mechanical engineering alumnus Greg Hubbard is chief engineer for General Motors’ extended-range vehicle and hybrid propulsion systems divisions. (Photo by Terry Miller)

Involvement in building and racing Rose-Hulman’s innovative solar car vehicle provided the impetus for Greg Hubbard’s rewarding 20-year career bringing technological change to the automotive industry.

The 1994 mechanical engineering graduate was a freshman member of the Solar Phantom II team that competed in the General Motors-sponsored Sunrayce 93, a seven-day, 1,100-mile race from Arlington, Texas, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. With a new motor system, solar array, and electrical system, the vehicle finished 15th out of 34 college teams.

“I really enjoyed that a great deal,” Hubbard says. “That race week, in June of 1993, inspired me for the work that I am still doing today.”

Hubbard has spent his professional career as an innovator in the automotive industry—a reason he received the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association’s Career Achievement Award. He was recently appointed chief engineer for General Motors’ extended-range vehicle and hybrid propulsion systems divisions, leading engineers from throughout the world to develop propulsion systems for the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ELR, and other sustainable cars of the future.

Since 2001, Hubbard had been a group leader for a team that had grown from 12 to 200 people worldwide over a decade, and grew in importance to GM’s emerging high-tech line for the Volt, Chevrolet Spark EV, Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, and Cadillac Escalade. While at Allison Transmission, he contributed to control systems for hybrid electric buses and GMC pick-up trucks.

“My team developed software that seamlessly blends together the engines and transmissions, the battery packs, and the electric motors in one unit,” says Hubbard. “Now [since April 1], I am responsible for much bigger systems, pulling together the engine, motors, transmission, battery pack, and cables, and making sure that the whole propulsion system works flawlessly.”

Hubbard is used to meeting challenges. He completed Rose-Hulman with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, was a starting offensive lineman on the football team, and a member of the successful Solar Phantom team. He was a two-time first-team football Academic All-American (1992-1993).

Stringent worldwide emissions standards have increased the need for the sustainable vehicles that Hubbard’s team is designing. He acknowledged that there are some complex technological and society obstacles that still need to be overcome if extended-range and hybrid vehicles are to succeed in the mainstream.

“While the mobile phone has changed significantly over 20 years, the fundamentals of the car are relatively unchanged, with the same size and weight,” says Hubbard, who lives in Michigan with his wife and six children. “With the electric car, we’re dealing with finding ways to motor a pretty heavy car down the road, and carrying its occupants around safely, with the range and performance expected. That’s the challenge that excites me every day.”