Despite the exotic allure of the ZR1's blown LS9 and the low-end grunt of the Z06's 427-cube LS7, the engine most commonly found in today's Corvettes is the "Gen IV" 6.2L LS3, which is standard equipment in all base and Grand Sport models.
More than 38,000 LS3s have been factory installed in Corvettes since the powerplant's introduction for model year 2008. It's easy to imagine that today's sophisticated technology has put computers and robots in charge of these engines—from design and development through assembly and validation—but that's simply not the case. Behind every component in your Corvette's engine—including the block, rotating assembly, heads, lubrication system, and even the bolts and fasteners—is a highly trained GM Design Responsible Engineer.
"DREs are the core product engineers for engines," GM Technology Communications, Powertrain spokesperson Tom Read says. "They are the ones ultimately responsible for the design, development, validation, and continuous improvement of the individual components that make up the engine.
"Their expertise on their component is simply unmatched in the company, and, in many cases, in the field," Read continues. "Not only do they know their part, they influence future design direction. Our DREs assure parts can be manufactured and assembled properly at the suppliers and/or engine plants and follow up on any issues with the design. When they bring a new part to life, they make sure it fits within established best-design practices and use design secrets GM has developed over the years. The DREs work hand-in-hand with computer-aided designers, simulation experts, and development engineers. If that weren't enough, they also talk constantly with integration engineers to make sure their parts work harmoniously with the entire vehicle system and listen to feedback coming from the field—the Corvette customer."
For the most part, these engineers shy away from the limelight. Their passion is in assuring the components that go into your Corvette's engine are perfect every time, and that future Corvette engine parts take full advantage of the latest in emerging design and manufacturing materials and technologies.
Though you may not instantly recognize their names, these men are critical to ensuring that you can enjoy your Corvette with absolute confidence, whether you drive it on the street or on the racetrack.
We asked eight of them to tell us about the roles they play in the Corvette's design and manufacturing process. This month you'll meet four of them—the men responsible for the LS3 block, rotating assembly, and oiling system. Next month, you'll meet the Design Responsible Engineers for the LS3's heads, intake, cam, head bolts, and fasteners.