If you recall from Part 1 of "Inside Information" (May '11), we introduced you to the talented and highly trained Design Responsible Engineers (DREs) who oversee the design, development, validation, and continuous improvement of the components that constitute the Corvette's LS3 engine. It's easy to see why the DREs' jobs are so important. More than 38,000 LS3s have been factory installed in Corvettes since the powerplant's introduction in 2008, and these core product engineers' undivided attention to their individual components gives Vette owners a feeling of complete confidence every time they engage their cars' start buttons.
"The DREs make critical decisions to improve the performance, quality, and longevity of Corvette," GM Technology Communications, Powertrain spokesperson Tom Read says. "They have a broad range of resources available to them to make important decisions on LS3 parts as well as parts for other engines. Design and development assets in use by the DREs allow parts to be created with unimaginable attention to detail, for pure performance, durability, and efficiency. "For instance, adjacent to where most Powertrain DREs sit is GM's $463 million engineering-development center, which is, overly simplified, the highest-tech dyno lab on the planet. A pipeline of information feeds DREs around the clock with engine-performance data so they design in quality from the beginning. They also access CAE engineers and state-of-the-art simulation and computer software that tells them things like where a part needs to be beefed up for strength, where some grams can be taken out for speed, or precisely where an oil passageway can be tweaked for better flow.
"DREs attend technical design education classes that MIT professors would love to sit in on," Read continues. "The classes reinforce sound engineering principles, retain and convey lessons learned—the Chevy small-block alone has more than 55 years of these—and provide technical insight from experts. They also often consult brilliant advanced-engineering personnel on their innovative projects to improve or advance their own designs. GM's Powertrain Advanced Engineering group in Pontiac, Michigan, and R&D at our Technical Center in Warren are like Ph.D. warehouses. The resources at our DREs' disposal are almost as endless as GM's reach. After all, competent core-product engineering is a must to make the best vehicles. Without question, DRE resource expenses are not spared to make sure our Corvette customers end up with some of the finest-engineered and precision engines in the world."
Though the Corvette's DREs are actively involved in the LS3 engine program, many of them are also responsible for the components that go into the LS7 and LS9 programs (and worked on the LS1, LS2, and LS6 in the past). Likewise, expect many of these DREs to be involved in GM's Gen V small-block engine program, which will power the Corvette model line in the near future.
You met four DREs last month—the ones responsible for the LS3 cylinder block, piston assembly, crank, and oil pump. This month you'll meet four more of them—the men responsible for the LS3 cylinder heads, head bolts and fasteners, camshaft (cam drive), and intake manifold.