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A Quartet of UHart Alumni Keeps Honda Rolling


Posted 07/13/2015
Posted by Meagan Fazio


From left: Alumni Andrea Martin '96, Shawn Kelly '97, Mike Berry '97, and Mike Miller '92 check a wheel's natural frequency at Honda.

From left: Alumni Andrea Martin '96, Shawn Kelly '97, Mike Berry '97, and Mike Miller '92 check a wheel's natural frequency at Honda.

We’ve all spent countless hours in cars. Have you ever wondered, “How does this thing work?” You could ask Michael Berry ’97, Shawn Kelly ’97, Andrea Martin ’96, and Michael Miller ’92, who all studied mechanical engineering in the University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA). As engineers for carmaker Honda’s research and development facility in Raymond, Ohio, they are responsible for making sure vehicles are safe, efficient, and comfortable.

Michael Miller, who is in charge of testing everything from durability to ergonomics at Honda, got there first. He started his job immediately following graduation and has worked his way up through the company. Unlike many of his colleagues, including his fellow UHart alums, Miller wasn’t always interested in cars. In college, it was helicopters that had his attention.

Miller recalls that Sikorsky Aircraft was promoting a human-powered helicopter competition. He joined the project in the design phase and was tasked with trying to figure out how to build a carbon fiber shaft for the propeller. Did the human-powered helicopter ever make it off the ground?

“Oh no, we didn’t succeed,” Miller answers with a laugh. “I don’t know if anybody has. The way the calculations worked out, we would have had to have a world-class cyclist actually get in and power it.” Despite this, Miller says the hands-on experience, supplemented by lessons from the classroom, help him on the job to this day.

Just a few years later, when looking for someone with similar experiences to hire at Honda, Miller found the perfect candidate in fellow UHart graduate Andrea Martin. Martin’s acoustics studies with Professor Robert Celmer ’78 prepared her for her job, which focuses on a car’s noise and vibrations. Another thing she had going for her was having worked on cars, thanks to the University’s Formula SAE team, a student club that offers the chance to build a racecar for a competition sanctioned by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“It was a great experience,” says Martin. “You have to do everything from coming up with the initial concept, to designing it, to building it. We also had to worry about the cost associated with it. It’s real-world stuff. I do the same thing now that I was doing then.”

While competing with the Formula SAE team, Andrea Martin met Shawn Kelly, who ended up at Honda shortly after graduation. Kelly is a principal engineer and technical expert in charge of developing pedal, shift, and park braking systems.

“I think I grew up with a steering wheel in my hand,” jokes Kelly of his love for cars. “But then I went down a few different paths. For a while, I was interested in going into the arts, but I also had a lot of math and science skills. Once I got to the University, I realized I could use my creativity, my math skills, my science skills, and my passion for cars as an engineer. And I was fortunate enough to get a job working out in the automotive field.”

Kelly works with close friend Michael Berry, who was best man in his wedding and is the fourth UHart alum working at Honda. Berry also is a veteran of the Formula SAE team. He is a senior engineer who develops software that quickly evaluates the performance of other Honda engineers’ designs using finite element analysis sumulation.

“The hands-on experiences [on campus] were phenomenal,” says Berry. “I used a lot of math skills and I still do. The engineering classes gave me a great foundation, and I learned more specifics in the SAE club.”

In his 20-plus years at Honda, Miller has worked on a variety of products such as the Accord Coupe, the Acura CL, and the 2011 Honda Odyssey. Miller says, “When I see any of the vehicles I've worked on drive down the road, I feel a sense of pride knowing that I've been personally involved with products that hundreds of thousands of people have used.”
From left: Alumni Andrea Martin '96, Shawn Kelly '97, Mike Berry '97, and Mike Miller '92 check a wheel's natural frequency at Honda.

From left: Alumni Andrea Martin '96, Shawn Kelly '97, Mike Berry '97, and Mike Miller '92 check a wheel's natural frequency at Honda.