Discovery and curiosity drive inventors to create solutions that have a lasting impact on the world around them. In 2018, inventors from across Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC) made their own lasting impact by earning 52 U.S. patents, the most ever for the company in one year. Spurred by their passion for safety technologies, 59 inventors contributed – individually or in groups – to the record patent total.
In all, Bendix received 60 U.S. patents, including eight filed on its behalf by parent company Knorr-Bremse. Among the recipients, 22 inventors received their first patents and several Bendix employees gained personal milestones: six inventors were granted their fifth patents, two reached their 10th, and three attained the 15-patent mark. This year’s honorees also include two prolific innovators, individuals who each hold 42 patents.
Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, honored the inventors at its annual patent dinner.
The dinner celebrated the inventors’ achievements, including 150 new invention disclosures submitted by employees last year. At the end of 2018, Bendix reached a total of 317 active U.S. patents and 171 active foreign patents.
“We are proud to celebrate the inspiring work of our inventors as they strive to advance Bendix safety products and technologies through ingenuity,” says Richard Beyer, Vice President of Engineering and R&D. “The patents are a testament to their passion for finding solutions to even the most complex problems. Together, these innovators are helping Bendix shape tomorrow’s transportation, and contributing to a safer future on our highways.”
The Future of Engineering
According to Beyer, the engineers and other inventors celebrated at the patent dinner also help define the Bendix culture of stressing training and education – and reflect the company’s emphasis on providing an environment that fosters creativity and knowledge expansion.
Bendix employs more than 325 North American-based engineers performing R&D, design, quality, manufacturing, testing, and technical sales roles. To aid new and experienced professionals as they work on the forefront of technology, the company provides a variety of career development and hands-on activities. In addition, Bendix has in place a long-standing engineering co-op program across many of its North American facilities, along with a selective Engineering Development Program for new graduates.
The Bendix Co-Op program offers engineering students currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs the opportunity to obtain meaningful, hands-on work experience that complements their classroom learning. Working closely alongside seasoned professionals in North America, as well as with Knorr-Bremse colleagues around the globe, the program offers participants a wide range of disciplines and enables Bendix to help develop a pipeline from which to recruit new talent.
The Engineering Development Program (EDP), established in 2011, is a 3-year rotational program that allows newly degreed engineers to develop in rotations of 1 year each in system development, product development, customer application, and/or advanced manufacturing engineering. The range of dynamic engineering challenges, at a variety of Knorr-Bremse global locations and Bendix North American facilities, increases the exposure to key areas within the organization and rounds out the capabilities of participants, providing significant experience, as well as the skill sets required to help deliver the next generation of commercial vehicle safety technology.
Beyer notes, “The commercial vehicle industry is evolving like never before. It’s an exciting time to be an engineer with the many emerging requirements of electric vehicles, highly automated driving (HAD), advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and advanced safety systems. But with these new technologies comes the need for new skill mixes and skill sets. That’s why continuous learning and growth are essential.”
A part of that growth opportunity is the company’s Technical Skills Enhancement (TSE) program. TSE is a robust engineering curriculum that offers diverse technical skills training and features the mechatronics educational curriculum at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), in Rochester, NY. The 18-month certification program, hosted primarily online, is open to practicing engineers at Bendix.
Bendix and New York Air Brake LLC (NYAB) – a North American sister company within the Knorr-Bremse Group – enjoy a long-standing relationship with RIT, and helped develop the Knorr-Bremse North America Mechatronics Laboratory at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Mechatronics – the intersection of electrical and mechanical engineering – is a critical component in advancing many commercial vehicle and rail safety technologies. The laboratory serves both RIT students and engineers from NYAB and Bendix.
Developing the Next Generation
While helping its engineers develop, Bendix also strives to prepare future technology leaders and generate interest in the commercial vehicle industry overall. Following on its strong commitment to education and to help advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, the company supports a growing list of initiatives within the communities in which it operates – including robotics programs and maker spaces – as well as an annual Discover Engineering program, open to children and grandchildren of Bendix employees.
The Discover Engineering program enables middle and high school students to visit company headquarters for a firsthand engineering experience. Bendix professionals provide an overview of engineering fields, plus lead demonstrations, site tours, hands-on activities, and more to show how a career in engineering can make a long-lasting impact on people’s lives.
To further inspire the next generation, Bendix also regularly opens its doors to local schools to learn about engineering, including design, prototype, test, hardware-in-the-loop, and materials engineering. These tours give students an up-close look at the daily lives of engineers to help develop an interest in STEM.
“Bendix engineers strive to reshape the world for the better – through everything from designing safer trucks to pioneering remanufacturing solutions,” Beyer says. “Their passion for engineering and innovation is visible not only through their work, but also in their commitment to inspire up-and-coming engineers. With their continued effort inside and beyond our walls, the future is bright for engineering – and brighter for all of us.”