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New chief for peak auto engineering body
Newly elected SAE-A president outlines road ahead for auto engineers
24 Oct 2011
By TERRY MARTIN
AUTOMOTIVE engineering consultant Bill Malkoutzis has been elected president of the Society of Automotive Engineers - Australasia (SAE-A), succeeding Patrick Ross who has completed his two-year term.
Mr Malkoutzis has spent the past five years running his Melbourne-based consultancy Talk Torque Automotive, having worked for PBR Automotive for 13 years and, before that, almost 13 years with Ford.
At PBR from 1992 to 2005, Mr Malkoutzis worked in a variety of engineering-based positions, including design engineer, program manager and department manager, in both design and manufacturing.
At Ford from 1979 to 1992, he worked in Australia and the US and is credited with providing both planning and engineering input into the Capri convertible (both left- and right-hand-drive versions), the RHD conversion of the 1982-onwards F-Series range, and the test and development of light commercial and heavy trucks in the early 1980s.
Mr Malkoutzis said SAE-A members would continue to face a number of challenges in the years ahead, including the increasing dominance of imported vehicles impacting on the local manufacturing industry.
Left: Outgoing president of the Society of Automotive Engineers - Australasia, Patrick Ross.
“Members continue to face the challenging scenario of reduced manning levels for engineers in the automotive industry, on both the manufacturing and supplier side, as sales of imported vehicles increase,” he said.
“Similarly, as the engineering in vehicles becomes more sophisticated, they become more reliable. Service intervals increase and maintenance and repair work becomes more modularised. So demand for automotive service and repair technicians is declining.”
Mr Malkoutzis said the SAE-A must adapt to changes in the “structure and culture” of the industry, just as other industry stakeholders had done.
“Today, smaller teams of engineers develop vehicles for Australian buyers,” he said. “We also have some teams of specialists contributing to global vehicle platforms for the Asian, European, Middle East and USA markets.
“With powerful onboard computers controlling modern vehicles, service technicians need specialist electronics and diagnostics skills.
“While measures have been taken to minimise the impact of industry change on the Society, we must do more to adapt to the new paradigm of reduced membership and fundraising opportunities.”
Mr Malkoutzis also said his goal was to ensure the SAE-A remained a key industry platform for debate about engineering excellence in safe and sustainable transport.
“We want to reinstate our position as the ‘go to’ place for information about state of the art technologies to ensure our members are at the leading edge of their professions,” he said.
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