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Updated 10:00 AM September 21, 2009

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UMTRI's conference series kicks off with business of automotive IT

Despite the turmoil in the global auto industry during the past year, efforts to transform information technology at manufacturers and suppliers have continued unabated.

A daylong campus conference "The Business of IT: Transforming the Organization and the Vehicle" is planned for 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will assess the current state of IT within the auto industry, gauge where it is heading in the near future, and identify challenges and opportunities facing IT and auto companies.

To take place at the Michigan League's Hussey Room, the event is the first of a five-part automotive-conference series presented by the U-M Transportation Research Institute's Automotive Analysis Division through July 2010. The conference's corporate sponsors are Hewlett-Packard Corp. and HCL Technologies.

"This series of conferences fulfills a university goal of creating links between the university and industry," says series organizer Bruce Belzowski, assistant research scientist at UMTRI. "We see this as a major opportunity to learn what auto industry managers are thinking about the future of the industry."

The conference's first theme, "Transforming and Globalizing the Organization," will feature speakers Servio Araujo of Ford Motor Co., Paul Skornia of Lear Corp., Ram Prabhakar of EDS/HP Corp., Gahl Berkooz of Ford Motor Co., Suneel Sekhri of HCL Technologies and Ed Allen of Oracle Corp.

The second theme, "Transforming the Vehicle," includes speakers Susan Zielinski of UMTRI's Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation project, UMTRI's Dave LeBlanc and David Berdish of Ford Motor Co.

U-M faculty, staff and students can register for free online at or by contacting UMTRI's Lee Burge at 734-936-2723 or

UMTRI's automotive research series, "Focus on the Future," also will include conference sessions on the role of government in the auto industry (Nov. 18), measuring manufacturing quality (Feb. 17), the Chinese auto industry (April 22) and the powertrain strategies of manufacturers (July 14).

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