Career Achievement in Industry
Donald E. Goodwin
Vice President - Scientific Laboratories and Proving Grounds
By Garland L. Thompson
Donald E. Goodwin is an auto engineer's engineer. From the day he completed his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, he has steadily marched through the ranks of the Detroit technocracy, beginning in diesel fuel system design, in 1971, and moving to supplier quality assurance, then brake system design, then design verification, sheet metal testing, emissions certification, and powertrain systems work.
In 1978, Goodwin earned a master's degree in management from Michigan's Dearborn campus, and his management responsibilities climbed. He joined Chrysler Corporation, in 1985, as manager of design feasibility and reliability assurance and continued his climb.
Today, he leads an organization with 2,250 people who participate in the development and verification of all vehicles designed, engineered, and produced by the Chrysler Group -- Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep. According to his superiors, Goodwin's is the largest group within the Vehicle Engineering division, measured by the number of people, the size of its budget, annual capital expenditures, and the number of employees represented by the United Auto Workers union. Goodwin is responsible for materials engineering, product test and development laboratories, DaimlerChrysler's proving grounds, and all engineering activities associated with DaimlerChrysler Canada, Inc.
As auto writers and analysts say, the Chrysler Group is the biggest profit center within the DaimlerChrysler stable. Thus, Goodwin's studies of customer needs and vehicle usability, handling, convenience, and quality are the critical base on which company viability stands. His laboratory and proving grounds stand at the interface of increased government regulation, marketplace pricing pressures, and the demands of a global auto market, and Goodwin has become a leader who is adept at handling rapidly shifting priorities.
Goodwin, one of the original members of the Vehicle Engineering Workforce Diversity Committee, also helped found the DaimlerChrysler African American Network, two groups whose initiatives have helped bring diversity to the automaker's managerial as well as technical ranks. A job-posting plan begun in engineering, in 1989, to improve career awareness and fairness now is a corporate-wide process.
Goodwin, a member of the Engineering Society of Detroit and the National Society of Professional Engineers' Industry Advisory Group, provides mentoring and for young career climbers regardless of their reporting organization, and he also is executive sponsor of recruiting at North Carolina A&T and Carnegie Mellon Universities.
Garland L. Thompson is assistant managing editor of The Philadelphia Tribune and a member of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Selection Panel. He can be reached at