Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Universities putting their lectures on itunes. Time to change the mantra.

As you probably know I am promoting MUM. The basic concept is to set up an institute of higher learning on a race circuit.
One side of the equation we have cars workshops lecture halls... all based at a working circuit.
On the other side I see virtual learning.
Today, I read an article on the BBC:
pic borrowed from the BBC

Open University claims record iTunes downloads
The article is very interesting:
The global figure for downloads from iTunes U has reached 250 million.
"The way people want to learn is changing," says Open University vice-chancellor, Martin Bean.

The Open University, once parodied for its late-night television shows, is now pioneering the use of the internet to reach its students.
Chart toppers

It began putting material on Apple's iTunes U service in June 2008 - and in two years has had 20 million items downloaded.
"There is a real worldwide hunger for learning," he says.

Such iTunes downloads are now available from many leading universities - putting lectures and materials in reach of an online audience.
Oxford University last month announced that there had been more than three million downloads of its tracks on iTunes U.
The current top 10 includes Cambridge University's "The art of asking the right question" and Warwick University's "Sex in the Ancient World".

I still find it hard to believe that I could not convince Lotus that this project has potential. I have to assume it is a bit like GM.
At GM the mantra was "We can't make money from small cars".

At Lotus it was "We never make money from training". (Sadly Lotus don't make money period.)

Maybe it's time to change the mantra...

One million downloads at RM50 (10 Pounds) is RM50 million.
That sounds like a revenue stream to me.

The new management team are commited to turning a profit. This obviously has the potential to do so.
Thought I would add a positive review of the Satria.

Autocar reports Bob Lutz is possibly joining Lotus

Autocar is reporting that Bob Lutz is considering an appointment with Group Lotus.
I have been fortunate enough to have worked with GM in the States. I never had the pleasure of working with or for Bob Lutz. However, he is a great speaker, very charismatic and I'm sure he would be a great figure head for Lotus.
In my humble opinion he has the X factor. That certain something that makes you look up and take notice. It was no coincidence that GM stuck him in front of TV cameras at every opportunity.

When I worked in Germany for GM my Opel "Boss" was Dieter Bratke. After the project was over, Dieter was seconded to Detroit where, I'm led to believe,  he was part of the Bob Lutz team. Herr Bratke was a very smart man. I enjoyed working with him. He has now retired from GM.
As I have said before, I have done work for the present GM president Mark Reuss.  When I worked with Mark he was a release engineer. I found him to be honest, straight forward, hard working and serious. Nothing wrong with that.
I wish him well.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lotus Snetterton. Thanks to my old mentor Marvin. Mark Webber mounts Heikki

Today I came across a professional quality video of  the Snetterton Lotus weekend.

It is nice to see that Lotus past and present make an appearance. Colin Chapman's wife makes a short appearance linking the two eras. She does not have a 'Norfolk" accent.
Lotus actually started out in London. During my Ford years I worked in the Aveley prototype shop with a gentleman named Marvin Ford. He used to wheel panels on a piece work basis for Lotus in those days. The aluminium panels were oxyacetylene welded, mounted to the car, clear lacquered and raced.
Marvin was a highly skilled tradesman, and a very nice man. I have long since lost contact with him. However, I have a copper kettle at home, that I made as part of my college work. It owes more to Marvin than me, and stands proudly in front of the fire... Marvin, many thanks for your help.

This is possibly some of Marvin's handywork. Lotus 16

Today, F1 cars are composite, and very safe. Mark Webber tried to mount the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen  this weekend and was airborne. He walked away unhurt.
 If that had happened in Colin Chapmans day we would have been mourning the loss of a life. Safety has certainly benefitted from the technological advancements.
Pic borrowed from BBC

As usual I am popping the odd email and text to those in a position to help move the Motorsport University Malaysia project forward.
Still waiting for a positive response. Enjoy the day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Who's going to win this weekend?

Who's going to win on the weekend?  The F1 and the England Germany match.
A simple enough question. No disrespect, but I don't think it will be Lotus. Congratulations though on reaching 500 GP's under your present guise.
More interestingly, the Germans have employed a psychic octopus to predict the England Germany match!

Sehr Interessant!
I must say that I consulted a respected psychic about this project. Mr P. Ganeson who is speaking this coming week at a Silva mind course meeting. I look forward to seeing him again.
The result was very positive. Johor was a very strong yes. The success of the project was also rated highly, both commercially and socially.
Sadly, I didn't enquire about the time frame! Lucky I'm patient...
I'll be watching the game with my German friend Tilo.
One of us will be going home happy. Life will go on for the other.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lotus range extender. Fagor Ederlan to productionise engine. F1 intoduces 107% rule

Well Proton and Lotus management have now been locked in a room for two days. Brainstorming.
I was not in the room. So nothing to report!
A couple of years ago I went to the Geneva motor show. I was supposed to meet Mike Kimberley, at that time Group lotus CEO. Mike got called away.
I was fortunate enough to speak with a few of the engineers. A version of the range extender engine was on show then. It is nice to see it is being productionised.
pic borrowed fron Automotiveworld.com

The BBC reports that F1 will reapply the 107% rule for qualifying.
Among other changes are a re-introduction of the 107% rule, which prevents any driver whose quickest time in the first qualifying session is slower than 107% of the fastest from taking part in the race.
I believe that Lotus F1 are too strong to fall foul of this rule. It will keep the new boys on their collective toes.
Sitting in the paddock watching the race as a spectator would be a very embarassing situation for any team or Driver.
It be interested to hear Alex Yoong talk about this rule on the weekend.  I like Alex, but sadly he has some negative experience with this...

Returning to the range extender engine. I have just viewed a video of Mark Reuss discussing GM's Volt. GM have built their own range extender.
I worked with Mark in the past. I'm pleased he has done well for himself. General Motors appear to be making a good recovery from their bankruptcy.
Here's the video:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lotus to unveil a new E(vo)ra in Paris? Mahindra have been to Lotus Indonesian HQ?

I see Lotus Media are teasing people with their proposed new "New Era" at the Paris Motorshow.
Traditionally, Lotus cars start with an E. If it is to be a bona fide launch it may well be a convertible version of the Evora.
I have to assume the convertible was designed in parallel with the hardtop.
Lets see what transpires...
Maybe Dany Bahar will announce a total commitment to revolutionising the brand and bringing it to the forefront of motorsport education across the globe!

Bernama have just reported:  Proton Hopes To Transform Group Lotus Within Five Years
Proton's group managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said one of the main strategies under the five-year plan was entering into a premium sports car segment alongside Porsche and Ferrari.

Sadly no mention of Global Education leader leveraging it's hardware and software capabilities to touch students and future customers world wide, whilst making a positive contribution to the world.
A noble and economically viable plan!..
These guys need to hire me!

Recent reports on Mahindra and Mahindra refer to a visit to the Lotus/Proton manufacturing facility in Indonesia??
I have think that people are copying an incorrect article.
Certainly, in the case of Lotus I am sure they only assemble in the UK. They do have a global "Engineering" presence.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mahindra and Mahindra interested in Lotus and Proton partnerships

I read today that M&M are interested in partnering both Proton and Lotus in seperate deals.
The Telegraph (Calcutta) reports:
New Delhi, June 20: Mahindra & Mahindra is in talks with Malaysia’s Proton for two India-specific projects that can lead to the launch of the Lotus range of sports cars and a joint venture to make Proton’s small cars.
The sources said discussions on the two projects were being held simultaneously; M&M just now was keeping the negotiations separate for the small car and Lotus.
As an outsider I don't know how much truth there is in this.
I do know that India is building an F1 circuit. Ideal for my project. I don't expect Lotus management to promote the idea though.

I had an interesting day yesterday. One of my teachers Sifu Wong spent several hours talking about his life. He is an interesting man. His Son Fei Hoong is currently in KL after which he is flying to Japan to participate in a GT series.
Sifu Wong (Omega) is a martial arts Master. His lessons normally involve a little pain mixed with a lot of smiles. Sensai Yaacob also a martial arts teacher is an accomplished artist. I spent the early part of yesterday with him and his family. Very nice people.
I found a trailer for a film Sifu Wong (omega) was recently involved in: The Sanctuary. He appears at about 4min.44secs.
I hope all you fathers (including mine... who spent the day watching MotoGP) had a good day yesterday.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Simultaneous as opposed to serial design.

I have just come across an interesting document. Brigham Young University are applying for a grant to study the possibility of having a part or parts designed simultaneously by several designers at once.
Among the people who have given their support for the grant is Tony Trecapelli. Tony was one of my GM bosses when I worked on the joint Saturn Opel project.


It was the comment fom Siemens that I found interesting:
"Collaboration technologies exist today, but they typically involve passing a control token back and forth from one participant to another. There is only a single "cursor", so the process is still essentially serial. The team at BYU have observed that on-line games provide a much richer environment, allowing multiple participants to engage in simultaneous activities. Each user can control his own cursor and his own view of the "world". A similar environment would be useful in design collaboration."

"Current CAD systems are based on the idea of a single "event" stream. The same is true of most rich document-centric applications. Some fairly fundamental architectural and user-interface changes will likely be needed to accommodate multiple users driving multiple cursors. It would be interesting to know what changes are necessary."

"Clearly, multiple cursors without some management would be an unworkable state of anarchy. So, there are interesting questions about ways to sub-divide the work. There are issues with control, security, and management of the data and the process." (George Allen Technical Fellow & Chief Technologist Siemens PLM Software, 2/15/2009)

The idea of design being carried out 24/7 globally is now an old concept! This was based on a single designer working on a part in say the UK. After 8 hours he hands it onto his counterpart in Asia. An American designer then continues for another 8 hours, handing it back to the UK..

As you can imagine this means the design parameters must be well laid out, and each design centre needs to be able to accomodate the others ego different viewpoint etc.

Simultaneous design would mean that theoretically 10 designers would be using the same design part at the same time, whilst I assume being in different geographical locations.

Controlling this would be very difficult. Who wins the design contest? Who deletes what and when?
Controlling the different design iterations will be interesting to say the least!

Time to market is the mantra. Speed of execution is the key. Good luck to Brigham Young University.
 I have embedded a Math model tutorial... A little fantasy never hurt anyone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Congratulation to UTM on gaining Research status.Proton (Lotus) to have professorship chair.

UTM a Johor (Iskandar region) based public University has just received Research status.
The Managing Director of Proton makes an interesting comment regarding Lotus.
Tony Fernandes received an honorary Doctorate from UTM in the recent past.
I have copied this quote directly from the UTM site.
Dato’ Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir Managing Director, Proton Holdings Sdn. Bhd.

 “Proton and UTM have initiated a professorship chair to further promote research and collaboration between the private sector and public institutions of higher learning. Jointly, Proton and UTM will conduct research to improve current technologies while developing new areas of research for green technology. This would include the involvement of Lotus.”

I have to assume the MD meant Group Lotus. Lotus F1 already has partnership agreements in place with both Petronas University and UTM.
I'd be interested to know what a "Professorship chair" entails exactly.

UK Government looking radical change to University system

The BBC reports that:
University system needs radical change - David Willetts  (England's universities minister)

The above video may not be available outside the UK.

Here is a small portion of the article:
Flexible learning
He said students should be able to study for a degree at any university in England, but attend lectures at their local further education college or other institute.
"That means that you don't have the costs of living away from home but you do get a prestigious degree and that's actually how we spread our access to higher education," he said.
David Willetts: "Fresh thinking" needed for universities
This would also help meet rising demand for degrees, he argued.
The model the government has in mind is that of London University.
It says it has 45,500 students studying by distance and flexible learning in 180 countries. Another 6,000 students in the UK do the same.
This is on top of the tens of thousands of students - the majority - who do study at the university's institutions in the capital.
The university is made up of 19 colleges and institutes.

I assume this means that students can attend other "Approved" sites associated to the University and take their degree materials.
London University doesn't appear to have a Motorsport orientated degree program. Maybe they should start one?!
This sort of proposal would fit in well with MUM. Particularly as MUM is based around a real life working entity (a race circuit).
 Can I suggest they take a look at my slideshare presentation...

Malaysian Government swap Proton cars for Indonesian tanks.

Today, an article appeared on tempointeractive  titled:
Tanks to be Bartered with Proton Cars

Thursday, 10 June, 2010
14:03 WIB
It would appear that Proton being government owned has been used in negotiations with the Indonesian Government....

Indonesian Anoa manufactured APS-3 APC

“Malaysia has ordered with a value of around US$ 80 million per year,” said the Minister of Industry M.S. Hidayat yesterday.
Both sides agree on several terms of payment.

“Namely 25 percent of the trade value would be paid with trade offs,” said Hidayat.

This reminds me of a Design house I once worked for Hawtal Whiting. A friend, Bob Iliffe informed me all the managers had received  Daewoo company cars. Daewoo had used cars in place of cash as payment.

This however was because Daewoo were close to being bankrupt and had cash flow problems.

Hawtal Whiting is not trading anymore. Daewoo are now GM owned and branded as Chevrolets.
When I was in Malaysia, working on the GEN2 project, I worked with a team of ex Daewoo engineers.
Interestingly, once I wanted to promote one of the Korean team to a lead position. He refused, as another member of the Korean team was a higher rank in the military than he had been, and was higher ranking black belt. Such a promotion would mean a loss of face to the other Korean.
Had I offered a similar thing to one of the westerners this kind of conversation would never have happened!
It's an interesting old world we live in!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MOHE (Malaysia) looking for high quality European students. VW cancel Proton talks.

This weekend I attended the Education fair at PWTC in KL. It was run by NAPEI National Association of Higher Education Institutions
The Malaysian goverment had several agencies represented there. I managed to get a PDF file sent to me outlining all the steps required to set up a private University. It is seventy seven pages and very comprehensive!
The Star wrote an article about the fair entitled:
Be committed, private educationists told
Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
KUALA LUMPUR: With the licences of over 70 private higher education institutions cancelled by the Higher Education Ministry over the past three years, private educationists must be committed if they want to remain in the field.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah who said this, added that between 2007 and 2008, the licences of 56 colleges were revoked while 22 more were cancelled in 2009.
pic borrowed from the Star

 Job well done: Saifuddin (second from right) presenting the NAPEI Academic Excellence Award 2009 to (from left) Seri Suria senior principal Lee Seow Ping, Smart Reader representative Moganaveni, and Masterskill vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nik Rahimah Nik Yacob, while National Association of Private Educational Institutions (NAPEI) President Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan (right) looks on.

He told reporters later that the current challenge for private and public higher education institutions was to bring in quality international students, specifically Europeans.

It looks like the Ministry of Higher Education want better and more internationally focussed institutions. I found the European reference interesting.
It would be my intention to have European partners in MUM. The reason I would like to set up a private University is so I can cater to global students. Having a circuit based college would be unique. I'm sure we would have student applications from Europe. As a merit based institution they would not necessarily get priority.

By the way the VW Proton talks are now over. There is no agreement between the two OEM's.
Here is a short quote from a Business Times article:

Proton, in a brief statement today, said that Volkswagen confirmed it currently has other priorities and that a potential collaboration with Malaysia’s car maker could not be pursued.

Oh well. Nothing new there then.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Proton propose sale of 40% Group Lotus stake to Dany Bahar. Former CEO gets RM5 million.

This weeks issue #809 of The Edge Malaysia

Sheds some light on the proposed sale of Lotus:  an article by M . Shanmugam and Fong Min Hun.
The article is headed:    Steering problems at Proton.
 Here is a small portion...

A source says a plan is in motion to sell 40% of Proton's stake to the recently appointed CEO of Lotus, Dany Bahar, formerly of Ferrari.
The decision to sell to Bahar, although there were higher bids for the stake , notably from a Chinese party which offered three times the Bahar's price, led to another disagreement.

Two Proton Directors recently resigned from Proton. The Lotus issue was only one of several issues reported.

On the same page in the Edge under Breaking news: Former Proton CEO settles for RM5 Million.
Tengku Djan's dad Tengku Mahaleel former CEO of Proton walked away with RM5 million in compensation from Proton.
picture borrowed from Paul Tan

In another article again the Edge; Lotus may be part-sold to management team - by Fong Min Hun

This article covers the proposed sale of a stake in Lotus and it's boardroom repercussions.It also implies that the synergy between Proton and Lotus has not produced anything of great benefit to Proton:
The final paragraph states:
Ten years is a long time to wait for a return on investment. While things may change with a new management team on board, it may be better for Proton to cut it's losses especially with an attractive offer on the table.

I have to say that my MUM proposal was something that would have ticked Protons social responsibility boxes and raised the Lotus profile in ASEAN as well bringing much needed prestige institutions to Malaysia's Iskandar region.
Niether Proton or Lotus have shown any desire to get involved. Thinking outside the box is often talked about, but seldomn acted upon.
This my proposal on Slideshare:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An interesting view of VW take over of Italdesign

I have just come across a very well written paper on VW. It is written by Turan Ahmed
This only a small part of a very comprehensive article on VW. This quote is taken from the end of a general explanation of the reasoning behind the take over...  
Furthermore, investment-auto-motives suspects that it is also a vehemently strategic move by VW AG. Given that Giugiaro is presenting a Proton-Badged flexi-powertrain city-car at the Geneva Autoshow; with Proton owning Lotus Group (Engineering & Cars) a company which has been intendedly 'over-run' by ex-Ferrari (ie FIAT) management, Piech et al may fear FIAT's potential use – or perceived use - of a technically disruptive new product appearing from FIAT-Chrysler. So seems to be either taking over Italdesign Giugiaro to either integrate the project into VW or suffocate the project so as not to interfere with VW Up and its own e-vehicle kudos.

This is of course the writers/institutions own opinion. It is true Dany Bahar has hired a large number of his former Fiat colleagues. I have to assume that was done with the full backing of Proton.
Lotus had prior to Dany's arrival and Chrysler's recent Fiat management takeover, agreed to supply the Europa as a mule for Chrysler to produce an electric powered sports car (Dodge EV).
Fiat have cancelled that arrangement, so Dany and his team aren't that influencial as far as Fiat are concerned...
pic borrowed from itechnews.net

Unless they see Proton's use of Italdesign as being Dany Bahar led. Dany's recent work experience is with Fiat. Therefore Fiat introduced Dany to Italdesign and most probably have some clever projects lined up with them... (pure conjecture on my part).
VW have been in negotiations with Proton for some years now, and supposedly may soon sign some kind of collaborative agreement. Perhaps the EMAS will become a joint venture?  Who knows (I don't...)
EMAS pic borrowed from paultan.org