Aftertreatment Integration Engineer - A.J. Ausby
This article is from the “Cummins: All Access” series, a compilation of unique, reality-based stories featuring Cummins employees. The series is designed to give a behind-the-scenes perspective of Cummins employees as they develop their careers.
Cummins engines are a finely tuned exchange of components, functionality and performance unlike any other diesel engine in the industry. They’re innovative, complex systems integrated to deliver our customers world class performance. A.J. Ausby is an Aftertreatment Integration Engineer who helps refine the balance between engine and aftertreatment system performance.
A.J., a University of Central Florida graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Energy Systems, interned with Cummins in 2010 before accepting a full time opportunity in 2012.
“My team is the bridge between combustion performance inside the engine and the aftertreatment system. It’s a great learning experience because I’m supporting two high performance teams and developing engineering solutions that maximize the success of both systems.”
And now for your All Access Pass:
A.J. begins his day at the test cell inside Cummins Technical Center analyzing data received from Cummins proprietary tuning software.
“We’re starting our morning by reviewing performance data from a prototype engine. We revised our testing plan yesterday to find an improved balance between our controls, so I’m interested in seeing how the new temperature levels perform inside the aftertreatment system. Our conversion process depends on heat -- without heat, gas molecules don’t mix with the urea and performance suffers.”
After reviewing the overnight testing results, A.J. returns to his desk and reaches out to a colleague on the engineering team. She stops by for a conversation about how the changes to the testing plan present a new twist for the team to consider.
“It’s important that we analyze how our efficiency of tuning increased, but it appears another component reacted differently once the spec limit was reached. I want to review the data with our team since there’s room for improvement. Our test had an opposite, but equal effect.”
The colleagues find an impromptu conference room to collaborate in by projecting the testing findings on a large wall-mounted flat screen television. During the conversation, A.J. remains patient with the process since research and development is an exciting yet ever-changing journey.
“We received a good report, but an unintended consequence happened. That’s the discovery inside Cummins engineering: we’re examining a delicate process that involves a long learning cycle. Anything is possible once we begin simulating external environments. For example, running an engine in the winter is different than during summer due to heat and humidity. The air density changes significantly as the seasons change-- and that’s before we add the effect of altitude.”
Just before lunch, A.J. returns to the test cell to begin a testing plan on a second prototype engine.
“We’re going to begin our steady state points test later today. We’ll keep the power output and inputs to the engine constant for point-to-point tuning and slowly increase revolutions per minute (RPM). It helps us measure incremental performance as we interpret the research.”
A.J. leaves the Technical Center for lunch with his team. It’s a mid-day break during a nice day outside and a chance to celebrate the birthday of one of his team colleagues.
“We like to change up our routine and try different restaurants. Today we’re going to a Japanese sushi restaurant. It brings us closer together as a team -- we care about each other.”
After lunch, A.J. receives a message including diagnostic updates on engines being tested in the field. He begins examining data from over 50 different customer prototypes on the job around the world.
“I’m checking our field data to analyze differences between test cell and real world conditions. Field performance testing helps show our team what environmental variables are like beyond what we can isolate. For example, we’ve scheduled engines for long haul trips from Indy through Denver to San Francisco so we can measure how high altitude environments change performance.”
A.J. has a mid-afternoon conference call with an important Cummins customer who will add a prototype engine to one of their trucks in Death Valley. He’s excited to discuss the opportunity since the environment is unique compared to what the team has recently tested.
“This engine will be towing 18 wheel trailers while traveling up and down elevation changes. Temperatures can reach over 100 degrees there, so we’ll measure density of air and the effect on performance. We’ll also test a different cooling package and how it impacts the entire engine.”
Late in the day, A.J. heads for a one-on-one meeting with his supervisor to discuss his career development. The conversation focuses on upcoming projects and mentoring opportunities.
“I ask her questions about different project scenarios and she helps connect me to her expertise or network. It makes me feel good because she’s a good leader who really cares about our team. She doesn’t want to overwork us, and really wants to develop our skills.”
As A.J. is leaving for the day, he reflects on going back to school to pursue his Master’s Degree in Engineering and why Cummins supports his continued education.
“Thinking beyond your desk isn’t part of the job at Cummins, it is the job. You have to learn, work, and progress in your development -- that’s what keeps me focused and sharp. Graduate school helps my understanding of thermal systems and gives me new options for learning. It keeps me up to date in our field since there is so much to becoming a great engineer. We know this is not one of those ordinary jobs and I’ve got the itch to get better.”