Testing the Ford Raptor is more than just fun and games
It is nice to see that Ford has a few good women working on their high performance products. The automobile industry is one where you would expect to find a group of men sitting around a drafting board talking about wheelbases and horsepower, but thanks to SVT NVH engineer Hether Fedullo, the blue oval’s latest high performance off road machine is everything that it can be. Ms. Fedullo’s love for cars started early on when she would watch Formula 1 races on Sunday mornings with her father or “The Dukes of Hazzard” on her own time. She went on to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Technical University and interning with the Ford Motor Company simultaneously.
Once Hether graduated from college she went to work full time with the Dearborn based automotive conglomerate as a power train engineer before being moved into Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Team where she specializes in controlling the noise, vibration and harshness that comes with a high performance ride like the Ford Raptor. “NVH orchestrates the vehicle,” Fedullo said. “You could compare us to the conductors of the symphony. Like the conductor orchestrating the symphony, we figure out what the customer should and shouldn’t hear, and help the engineering team implement that plan.”
Her role was key to dampening all of the unwanted noises found in the Ford Raptor; “For instance, when developing Raptor the team worked to gain an intimate understanding of the customer and what they wanted. We made sure to assign attributes to meet those needs… we tuned the truck for great off-road performance without comprising the on-road experience.” So we say thank you to Ms. Fedullo for being part of the development of a great product and the Ford Motor Company for giving women the ability to thrive in the automotive world.
Press release after the jump.
ADVENTURE-LOVING TEST DRIVER TROUBLESHOOTS, FINE-TUNES RAPTOR
DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 17, 2009 – Hether Fedullo, a noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) engineer on Ford’s performance Special Vehicle Team, spends her days behind the wheel perfecting SVT’s latest products for the customer.
That’s not terribly surprising. For Fedullo, all roads seemed to point to a career in engineering from early on. Growing up with two engineers as parents, she loved “Dukes of Hazzard,” had a reputation for having a lead foot (even in high school) and spent Sunday mornings watching Formula One races with her dad.
Following graduation from Virginia Tech with degrees in German and mechanical engineering, the Ohio native came to work at Ford full-time, after interning there while in college. Starting in powertrain, her roles eventually led to her current position as an NVH engineer with SVT.
Fedullo likes to be close to the customer and the product – her role in NVH gives her that opportunity. It also helps in developing the vehicle, because she has a better understanding of what the customer expects. “For instance, when developing Raptor the team worked to gain an intimate understanding of the customer and what they wanted. We made sure to assign attributes to meet those needs,” she explained. “We tuned the truck for great off-road performance without comprising the on-road experience.”
Fedullo essentially is assigned to silencing sounds and eliminating vibrations that don’t belong, and emphasizing the ones that do, whether it’s tire noise, vibration through the steering wheel or exhaust sound quality.
“NVH orchestrates the vehicle,” Fedullo said. “You could compare us to the conductors of the symphony. Like the conductor orchestrating the symphony, we figure out what the customer should and shouldn’t hear, and help the engineering team implement that plan.”
Fedullo also is a test driver for Raptor, which is a whole new realm of driving for her. It’s a much different driving style than on-road, and she essentially had to learn everything from the beginning.
She admits that off-road driving is a bit intimidating and comes with a steep learning curve. “My first desert ride in an early prototype was on a recon lap. I didn’t realize that was much slower than we would be running,” she said. “On the second full-speed lap, I was grabbing onto everything I could find in the truck to hold on to.”
When Fedullo isn’t problem solving at work, she finds time to enjoy the outdoors. Besides being an avid flower gardener, she kayaks and mountain bikes. She also finds time for some automotive fun outside of work – she was part of a team of Ford employees at the 24 Hours of LeMons, a race where teams acquire old cars with a $500 purchase limit, modify and track-prep them and then try to make them last 24 hours.