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Innovation That Excites: Hallene Lecture Recap

By Talya Carian

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein once said. Innovation serves a great purpose in our lives; it is powerful and inspiring. Ogi Redzic, Chief Digital Director and vice president of Caterpillar Inc. with a focus on Cat Digital, came to speak to over 200 attendees about innovation. CAT Digital is going above and beyond to find new ways to solve problems, and Redzic sheds light on how a large successful corporation solves the world’s most pressing problems.

The Hallene Lecture is intended to help The Hoeft Technology & Management Program stay current and grounded and to expose students to leaders in relevant fields. The lecture is presented by a senior executive or distinguished scholar in the field of technology and management on a provocative topic dealing with a current issue of strategic significance. The Hallene Lecture honors Alan M. Hallene: a 1951 Bronze Tablet Engineering Graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In May 1985, he was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award, which is the highest honor of the University of Illinois Alumni Association. Once a semester, the Technology & Management program hosts a Hallene Lecture in his honor. One great thing about the Hallene Lecture is that it is pushed out for anyone interested in the lecture to join.

I was excited about this lecture because innovation has revolved more around my life this past year with having my first professional experience during a pandemic. Something he said that really stuck out to me was that innovation does not have to be something built from the ground up, never reinvent things that are working really well, and make the new experience simple and intuitive. Cat Digital has over 1 million connected assets and is constantly improving customer productivity and profitability. Cat Digital accesses full fleet lists, receives fault codes, manages maintenance, track machine hours, and views asset locations.

Charlie Foster, a junior studying Aerospace Engineering in Class XXVI of the T&M program shared his thoughts on the lecture, “It was amazing to hear from a leader at a Fortune 100 company because it gave me a better understanding about how a large company operates at a high level. During internships or hearing other employees’ perspectives, the business side of an engineering heavy company is missing and so is the bigger picture.” Even Caterpillar, a well-established company with over 100,000 employees and nearing 100 years old, has to constantly innovate their processes and products in order to maximize customer satisfaction. The bigger picture is that the human race still has a lot to do with our world’s sustainability, and sustainability is one of Caterpillar’s core values. While rapidly innovating to meet new demands, Caterpillar constantly promotes high levels of environmental sustainability.

Innovation is continuous. One of Caterpillar’s industries is mining; a mining truck is core to the business, and it must work at peak utilization levels nearly 100% of the time. Redzic compared a mining truck to a car. A typical car is in a garage 97% of the time, however, a mining truck is being used all day every day. Cat Digital predicted that a major break issue would occur within 10 days for a particular mining truck which was not an asset of Cat Digital at the time. Unfortunately, the major brake issue happened which cost the customer 400 hours of unplanned downtime. If the customer knew of the potential problem, they would have $800,000 and would have only had 40 hours of unplanned downtime, which shows the power of predicted maintenance. Cat Digital is being improved every day in order to save customers time and money.

The Hallene Lecture has one of the largest turnouts compared to other events the T&M program hosts. If you missed this one, make sure you make it to the next one to learn more from leaders addressing current issues. Be alert, and for all you know, it might be you leading the Hallene lecture one day.

Talya Carian

Talya is a junior in T&M Class XXVI studying Chemical Engineering. Last summer, she worked as a Project Management Intern at ControlExpert GmbH.

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