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The Engineering Curmudgeon - Blog

Providing Innovative Solutions to Complex Engineering Problems

Robert E. Utter
3402 Chase Road
Adrian, MI
(517) 424-7107


Extensive experience developing new mechanical and heat transfer technology with seventeen years in progressive engineering management positions. A strategic thinker with vision and innovative solutions to complex technical and managerial problems. Strong expertise and proven track record at developing new technology, new methods and new systems in complex engineering environments. Inventor on  twenty nine patents.


2003- Present
A product development and engineering consulting firm.
Owner and senior consultant
Innovative Thermal Solutions improves the competitiveness of its customers by providing cost effective product development and engineering design solutions using a flexible network of industry experts and state-of-the-art facilities.

BRAZEWAY, Inc., Adrian, Michigan

A $100M manufacturer of aluminum tubing and heat exchangers for refrigeration.

Vice President – Refrigeration Engineering
Managed the Refrigeration business unit engineering department. This included product research, design and development, manufacturing engineering, fabrication engineering, engineering laboratory, sample shop and all engineering records and support functions. Developed the engineering organization into a self-directed, procedure driven, project oriented team with greatly increased resource capabilities, including both people and facilities.

  • Initiated Six Sigma at Brazeway resulting in $2M savings in the first two years. Trained as Six Sigma Executive, Champion and certified Green Belt.
  • Focused engineering Six Sigma effort on Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) utilizing Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Design of Experiments (DOE).
  • Developed a new welding process using Design for Six Sigma tools and techniques with a production defect rate less than 50 ppm for a direct annual cost savings of $1M. This offers realistic elimination of leak testing and an additional $2M cost savings potential.
  • Completed engineering material and quality cost reduction projects resulting in $1M annual cost savings.
  • Developed new web based system to find and display engineering drawings to any authorized person in the company, greatly improving communication and reducing errors.
  • Developed new web based engineering change management system improving communication, eliminating errors and reducing average approval time from 31 to 11days. This system was adopted for electronic document approval throughout the company.
  • Developed new web based product cost estimate system reducing average completion time from 40 days to 15 days.
  • Implemented new project management system incorporating stage/gate processes to better communicate, manage and ensure strategy alignment of all engineering projects. All projects completed under budget and on schedule.
TECUMSEH PRODUCTS CO., Tecumseh, Michigan

A $1.5 billion international manufacturer of compressors, small engines and pumps.

Vice President – Refrigeration Engineering – North American Compressor Group
Responsible for entire refrigerant compressor product engineering department of 120 people with an annual budget of $15M. This included design engineering, engineering records, test laboratory, engineering tool room, model shop and sample shop.

  • Implemented accelerated life test techniques, greatly improving product reliability and durability while reducing product development time.
  • Selected and implemented computer aided engineering tools including Computer Aided Design (CAD), Product Data Management (PDM) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Implementation of these tools improved team communication, product quality and reduced product development time.
TRANE CO (Division of American Standard)

A $4.7 billion manufacturer of heating and cooling systems.

Manager – Scroll Compress Engineering, Tyler, Texas

  • Managed a concurrent engineering team developing a new residential scroll refrigerant compressor. Responsible for developing the compressor design, manufacturing processes and production implementation of those processes.
  • Developed basic scroll compressor technology resulting in extensive patent portfolio used as an asset in forming a joint venture partnership with a major competitor.

Manager – Scroll Compressor, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Managed the scroll compressor development engineering department.

  • Designed and developed the world’s first commercial scroll refrigerant compressor. Supported production implementation, meeting all development goals and expectations. Compressor design was in profitable production for over ten years allowing Trane Company to increase market share and margin on products utilizing this technology.

Development Engineer, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Successfully served as development engineer and test engineer prior to managerial promotion.


BS, Mechanical Engineering (With Distinction)

The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE


  • Product and Technology Strategy
  • Six Sigma
  • Design for Six Sigma
  • Design for Assembly
  • Design for Manufacturability
  • Team Directed Workforce
  • Team Coach
  • Process Owner
  • Team Leadership
  • Flow Manufacturing
  • Quality Management
  • Theory of Constraints


  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers
    • Former Chairman – Technical Committee 8.1 – Positive Displacement Compressors
    • Member - Technical Committee 8.4 - Air-to-Refrigerant Heat Transfer Equipment
    • Member - Technical Committee 8.9 - Residential Refrigerators and Food Freezers
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