Alumnus brings electric car to campus, discusses automotive advancements | UToledo News

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Alumnus brings electric car to campus, discusses automotive advancements

Students check out Chevrolet’s Volt, which was charging up outside Nitschke Hall Friday.

Students check out Chevrolet’s Volt, which was charging up outside Nitschke Hall Friday.

A University of Toledo alumnus returned to campus Friday to discuss the latest in automotive technology — the electric vehicle and hands-free applications.

Jeffrey Liedel, the chief information officer for GM OnStar, brought with him to Toledo the new Chevrolet Volt electric car and details about it that he shared with the community.

Liedel, who graduated from the University in 1988 with a degree in computer science, also spoke with students in the College of Engineering about the 2011 OnStar Student Development Challenge to create original voice-enabled applications.

His public lecture focused on the new Chevrolet Volt and its on-board telematics device. He also discussed the mobile application and some of the “smart grid” capabilities.

UT alumnus Jeffrey Liedel talked about the 2011 OnStar Student Development Challenge during a visit to campus Dec. 3.

UT alumnus Jeffrey Liedel talked about the 2011 OnStar Student Development Challenge during a visit to campus Dec. 3.

The Volt was named the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year and has a pure electric driving range of up to 50 miles, Liedel said. The electric vehicle has safety features that tell the driver when the battery is depleted and that disable the vehicle in the event of a crash.

A Volt was parked outside Nitschke Hall and plugged into the building to show students and the community how it works.

Liedel also talked about OnStar’s priority of safety and security, repeatedly saying the mission is “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.”

“It’s always wonderful to see our graduates doing well,” said Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are happy he was able to come back to the college and share with our students the latest in the automotive industry and the possibilities available to them for their careers.”

UT actually was Liedel’s first stop for a series of OnStar visits with universities to encourage students to participate in the OnStar Student Development Challenge.

Liedel said he is able to relate to students at the University, having been one himself, and that he knows the UT program includes a broad view of both hardware and software, which is a great foundation.

“Young people have a different idea about how they communicate. I never thought about hands-free texting, but young people do,” he said. “We want to hear their ideas.”

As the chief information officer for GM OnStar, Liedel is responsible for IT systems that deliver safety, navigation, vehicle diagnostics, and telephone and other services to OnStar subscribers.

Liedel joined GM in 2004 and previously served as chief strategy officer for General Motors Information Systems and Services and as director of the Manufacturing and Quality Systems Development Factory. He also was vice president of development for Covisint LLC, a former joint venture of GM, Ford, DCX and Renault/Nissan.

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