General Motors Summer Job

General Motors Summer Job



      One year before graduating from North Carolina State University, Steve Hines participated in the General Motors Student-Intern Summer Program in Detroit.  


The assignment:

      “Design a vehicle to be used by six people for long-distance travel to allow for flexible interior use and facilitate moderate passenger activity.”



Innovations proposed by Steve, most of which are now commonplace:

  • Vehicle layout, similar to a van.
  • Padded baby crib behind last seat.
  • Rear seat converts into a bed.  Black-out curtains for those windows.
  • Fold-out table between second and third row seats.
  • Map-based navigational system (see below).  
  • Molded plastic body panels.  To save weight, eliminate the cost of painting, eliminate the possibility of the panel rusting.
  • Removable center console with radio, TV and refrigerated cooler, for picnics or visits to the beach.  When the cooler is returned to the vehicle, it makes electrical contact to recharge its own battery, and connects to the vehicle’s speakers.  The TV faces the rear-seat passengers.  
  • Headphone wiring is molded into the wall panels.
  • Air conditioning ducts are molded into the foamed plastic walls, with vents placed as necessary for rear-seat passengers.
  • Front passenger seat can be turned to the rear to attend to the children.
  • No interior handle for rear hatch, so that children cannot accidentally open it.
  • Closet to organize loose items.



Map-based navigational system:


GM-03-Map-fiche-414w GM-04-Nav-Sys-Console-337w



      Instead of using paper TripTiks from the AAA, in this proposed system AAA provides maps on microfiche, one fiche for the USA, and a separate fiche for each zone or city.  A microfiche is rear projected onto a screen on the console, and is slowly advanced and rotated on the screen as the car is driven.  Using the zoom lens, the driver can enlarge detail in the map to read streets.  

      The joystick and rotation controls on the front are for initial setup, to position the map to the car’s current location, and for occasional recalibration.

      This map-based navigation system predates the current GPS system, used first in the 1995 Oldsmobile, by 27 years.  


     The shift and rotation of the microfiche are determined by the number of turns of the speedometer shaft, and the steering angle and compass heading.  The driver sets the fiche-positioning mechanism’s reduction ratio to match the scale of the map.  The joystick and rotation knob on the console are used to reposition the map for accumulated drift, if any.

Inside the console, a light projects through the microfiche and zoom lens to the rear-projection screen.  






       At the end of the summer, the summer interns presented their projects to Bill Mitchell, VP of Styling, and to the design-school department heads who were flown in by GM.  The curved shape is a cylindrical drawing to show the surrounding view for the driver at night.  In the color picture, lower right: Don Masterton, Product Design department head from N.C. State.  


      An especially fun day was near the end of the summer (too late to be fired) when another student intern, Nancy Dunker, and I paddled a “boat” made of a 4×8-ft. sheet of foamcore out on the G.M. Tech Center reflecting pond.  The boat quickly folded and sank in 2-feet of water.  The potato chips and Coke cans floated away, and we got soaked.  The security guards were not amused, but we became instantly famous and hundreds of employees at the windows of the Styling building loved it.




      No products or concepts shown here are being offered for sale, but are being shown as examples of innovation, developed by Steve Hines, which clients of HinesLab can now expect on a contract basis.


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