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Guest Blog: A Range of Possibilities in Technology Advancement

    In observance of Women’s History Month, the Diesel Technology Forum is pleased to share this guest blog from Jody Howard. Jody is Vice President of Innovation and Emerging Technologies at Caterpillar, where she leads the teams that are shaping new technologies in the construction, mining and energy and transportation industries. Jody, an Iowa native, has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in computer science from Bradley University. She also has completed Stanford University’s executive program and the Women’s Director Development Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

    Jody HowardAn incredible amount of evolution is happening all around us today. The digital world is changing nearly everything - how we work, communicate, travel, store our information, manage our health, and on and on.  

    This change is affecting every industry, including engineering and product development. When I started as an engineering student at the University of Iowa in the mid-1980s, I was ready to use my talents in physics and math to solve the world’s problems. I joined Caterpillar as an electrical engineer at a time when most of our products were still mechanically driven. My first projects included migrating electronic controls into our machines. It was interesting, innovative work, and it was thrilling to play a part in the electronic transformation.

    At that time, none of us knew of the incredible disruption that would lie ahead. But today, we are living it.

    At Caterpillar, we are bringing technology advancements to our customers in the areas of automation and autonomy, connectivity, electrification, alternative fuels and advanced power sources.

    Our customers guide this work; it is their business needs that help us chart the course. With a solid technology strategy designed to support the energy transition, we are focused on providing a range of options to meet the customer wherever they are in their journey. Whatever our customers’ goals — lower GHG emissions, energy flexibility, business sustainability, improved productivity — we provide the solutions that help them build a better world.

    While technology advancements will bring new possibilities to meet the infrastructure, energy and resource needs of the future, it is exciting that the range of options is so vast.

    While there is an accelerated growth and interest in electric technology for the automotive world, the technology of choice for the industrial sector isn’t fully defined yet – and may not be for quite some time. We have a range of diesel engines that are efficient and cost effective. Battery electric, fuel cells, alternative fuels… they are all in play. Our customers can choose the technologies that work for them, just like we as consumers can choose the specific technologies that make our lives easier, more efficient, more enjoyable.

    And the future will bring more disruption. More data and more powerful algorithms will provide better insights. Better cameras and perception systems will be capable of more accurate recognition. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will allow more dynamic decision making. As more and more of our machines communicate and collaborate with each other, efficiency will increase. As an engineering community, we are ready to dig in and develop the solutions of tomorrow. 

    The future is on its way.