Lawrence D.  Burns

Lawrence D. Burns

Professor of Engineering Practice
University of Michigan

Current Positions

  • Senior Advisor to the Chairman, Hess Corporation
  • Consultant, Google Inc.
  • Vice Chairman, MRIGlobal
  • Member, CleanTech Advisory Council, VantagePoint Capital ¬†Partners
  • Member, Advisory Council, GreenTech Capital Advisors
  • Member, Advisory Board, Kitson & Partners
  • Professor, Engineering Practice, Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Director, Roundtable on Sustainable Mobility, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Career Highlights
Senior Executive:  From 1998-2009, General Motors Corporate Vice President of Research & Development and Planning/Strategic Planning, reporting directly to CEO/President. Member of top decision boards for global operations and products. Responsible for advanced technology development, product portfolio planning, capacity planning and strategic planning. From 1988-1997, held wide range of leadership positions in GM operations, including industrial engineering, quality, production control, product/manufacturing/business planning, and product program management.

R&D Leader: Expanded GM R&D to a global organization with science labs, science offices, and collaborative research labs located throughout the world. Quadrupled the number of patents issued to GM researchers and increased intellectual property publications fivefold. Closely aligned GM R&D with core business operations and increased partnering, especially with universities, governments and energy companies.

Innovator: Major voice for the "reinvention of the automobile" and the diversification of transportation energy. Championed vehicle electrification, "connected" vehicles, fuel cells, bio-fuels, advanced batteries, autonomous driving, innovative concept vehicles, and operations research. Leading advocate for design and technology innovation focused on the total customer experience.

Technical Expert: Member, National Academy of Engineering. Contractor, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Deep knowledge of transportation systems, energy systems, "connected & driverless" vehicles, operations research, product portfolio management, business strategy, collaborative partnering, and alliance management. Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1978. M.S., Engineering / Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1975. B.S., Mechanical Engineering, General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), Flint, MI, 1975.

Communicator: Highly sought-after speaker in areas of expertise. Frequent speaker at investor conferences. Made over 500 keynote, conference and media presentations since 1998 including broadcast news programs. Covered and cited in major newspapers and magazines around the globe. Co-author of Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century (MIT Press, January, 2010).