Inside Plus: Chaozhe He, Staff Research Engineer – Control Systems & Fuel Economy
Before joining Plus in July 2021, Dr. Chaozhe He worked on fuel optimization and connected vehicles. This is an area of expertise he started building as a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. His research focused on using automation to optimize efficiency in heavy-duty vehicles. Later, at Navistar, he worked on powertrain design optimization as a way to improve fuel economy.
On what led him to Plus, Chaozhe said: “At Plus there is a mindset of driving innovation. You can jump on things quickly and make an impact. That’s one of the things that attracted me to Plus.”
Q: Tell us about your educational background.
A: “I pursued a major in mathematics during college. Although the automotive and autonomous vehicle industry was still in its early stages at that time, my passion lay in that field. Not only does it have a good automotive program but there are a lot of OEMs in the area. I’m glad I made that choice, as it allowed me to enter the industry through that avenue while attending a prestigious institution with a vibrant community and culture.”
Q: How did you hear about Plus and what inspired you to join the team?
A: “While working on prototyping and autonomous technology at Navistar, I became familiar with the highly capable and talented engineering team at Plus. I witnessed the important progress the company was making in the commercial vehicle industry. It made me believe that Plus could be an excellent fit for me. So when an opportunity arose for me to contribute in the area of control, planning, and fuel economy, it was a no-brainer for me to jump on it.”
Q: Tell us about your role at Plus.
A: “My focus is on fuel economy planning and control. A significant portion of the fuel economy improvements in our autonomous driving technology stems from how our system interacts in traffic. Therefore, I analyze our current designs in planning and control that address heavy traffic situations — how we gauge the fuel benefits brought by our design in traffic, and build on it, making improvements to increase the benefits even more.”
Q: Before Plus, much of your work was research-oriented. How does the experience of working for a technology company differ from your previous professional experiences?
A: “The culture at Plus is more efficient, things move faster, and everyone jumps on things very quickly without having to go through excessive hierarchical decision chains. There is a mindset of bringing technology to actual productization.”
Q: How would you describe your co-workers?
A: “Passionate. People here are genuinely excited about their work, which is exactly what junior engineers like me aspire to find.”
Q: What motivates you to work on applying autonomous driving technology to commercial vehicles?
A: “The trucking industry drives the economy that impacts every single one of us. It plays a vital role in the e-commerce boom and operates around the clock to transport goods, serving as the backbone of the logistics system. Because of that, if you improve fuel economy by only 1 percent, you can save billions of dollars.
The environmental benefit is also huge. You can reduce millions of tons of carbon emissions by improving fuel economy by just 1 percent. The impact is huge.”
Q: What do you do in your downtime?
A: “Lots of sports: football, basketball, and soccer. I also watch sports, both professional and college, with the Michigan team being my favorite.”