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Dr Charlton
Dr Charlton in the Abbey
Dr Charlton  with orator Professor Gary Hawley
Dr Charlton with orator Professor Gary Hawley

Internal News - 27 June 2008

Honorary graduate - Dr Stephen Charlton

Oration by Professor Gary Hawley:

Dr Steve Charlton is the Vice President of Heavy-Duty Engineering at Cummins Technical Centre in Columbus, Indiana, USA.

Cummins is a world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of diesel engines and related technologies with annual sales of $13B.

In his current role he leads a team of 300 engineers, responsible for the development of heavy-duty diesel engines used in trucks, buses, marine propulsion, industrial and power generation applications. These engines comply with the toughest world-wide emission standards.

Dr Charlton has 35 years’ experience in diesel engine technology, starting at the General Electric Company (GEC) in the United Kingdom in 1973, where he worked in engine design & development.

At GEC Dr Charlton was awarded a Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue his doctorate in diesel engine technology. After a brief period on the faculty of Staffordshire University, he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath in 1984. At Bath he developed and led a thriving research programme focused on diesel passenger car fuel economy and emissions, and established significant industrial sponsorship for this work which continues today.

He was pivotal in assisting Ford engineers with their early passenger car diesel engine control strategies especially at a time when a new generation of electronic fuel systems were being deployed. This was, indeed, pioneering work and demonstrated Dr Charlton’s deep scientific understanding of complex combustion systems from which he was able to lead the development of suitable control strategies for use and implementation by Ford engineers.

His technical expertise continued to grow especially in the areas of engine simulation and modelling, application of neural networks to diesel engine diagnostics, improved methods for heat transfer analysis and the application of novel materials for improved combustion chamber design.

As the automotive engine research work grew at Bath, his reputation did not go unnoticed and in 1993 he was ‘head-hunted’ by Cummins to join their corporate technical centre in Columbus, Indiana. Since that time he has been engaged in leading the development of low emission diesel engines for worldwide application in trucks, industrial equipment, ships, locomotives and power generation.

Cummins spotted his potential, not only as an ‘academic’ but as someone who could instigate, lead and manage complex engine development programmes. At Cummins he has gone from strength to strength, rising to the position of Vice President of Heavy-Duty Engineering.

During his rise through the ranks at Cummins his expertise, drive and reputation as an eminent engineer, researcher and manager with global responsibilities have been recognised on numerous occasions. In 2005 he was awarded the J. Irwin Miller Award of Excellence, one of only nine such awards given to Cummins employees to recognise their achievement. Dr Charlton was recognised by Cummins as the principal architect of the revolutionary low emissions engine design, which helped the company meet very tough emissions standards for diesel engines in 2002.

In 2005 he was also honoured by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) by being selected to present the annual L. Ray Buckendale Lecture. The lecture is given by leading industrial role models and directed primarily to the needs of young engineers and students with an emphasis on practical aspects of automotive engineering. This was followed in 2006 with Dr Charlton being elected as a Fellow of the SAE, an award which recognises significant engineering, scientific and leadership contributions to the automotive industry.

In 2007 Cummins announced its approach to meet the very stringent USA 2010 emissions standards for on-highway engines. Instrumental in pioneering the design, development and deployment of technologies to meet these requirements was Dr Steve Charlton and his role can be best summed-up in a press release made by him at the time:

"Designing and producing the best-in-class Heavy-Duty diesel requires expertise in combustion, air handling, fuel systems, electronic controls and exhaust aftertreatment. That expertise and the ability to balance customer and environmental needs is the driver behind innovation at Cummins"

Dr Charlton is an inspiring example of an academic and global industrial leader as well as a role model for young engineers starting out on their careers and is a most worthy recipient of this Honorary Degree.

Chancellor, I present to you Dr Stephen Charlton who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.