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Summer 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 3

Image of co-winners

Jim Weber, left, and Scott Leman ‘80 were named National Inventors of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in 2004. Along with the support of many team members, they created and developed ACERT technology components to reduce diesel engine emissions.


BU grad shares national inventor of the year award

by Karen Crowley Metzinger MA ’97

“‘Let him experiment,’ my mom told my unimpressed dad after I turned the family Rototiller into a snow blower during one winter when I was in high school. I think it worked fine in the spring when I turned it back into a Rototiller. Regardless, it was fun,” recalls Scott Leman ’80, the 2004 co-winner of the Intellectual Property Owners Association National
Inventor of the Year award. And the fun hasn’t stopped yet. Leman and his mentor, Jim Weber, plus hundreds of team members, developed a new air management system that works with ACERT technology components to drastically reduce diesel engine emissions. In simple terms, these two Caterpillar engineers were honored by a group representing the inventions of 230 companies worldwide for inventing an improvement to the diesel engine.

Problem solving comes naturally for engineers, and addressing the stringent emissions regulations while improving fuel consumption took the team an unprecedented 18 months from invention to the time the ACERT engine was placed in a truck. “I carried away an inquisitive nature from Bradley. I wanted to pioneer new territories and not be afraid to tackle the problems. That spirit has been instrumental in helping me solve problems and approach challenges from our management. Fuel consumption is key, and our invention helped us to meet the emissions regulations and improve fuel consumption over competing technologies.”

According to Tana Allen Utley ’86, director of Cat Electronics, “Scott Leman is a gifted engineer with an extensive background in fuel system technologies. In this case, he specialized in variable valve actuation, knew what was possible and how it could fit with the other technologies in forming ACERT.”

Leman readily admits that he aspired to become an engineer as a result of his inventive high school experiences. A Eureka native, he credits the Illinois Central College/Bradley University combination with making his educational path affordable and profitable. Leman’s Bradley co-op experience enabled him to get his foot in the door at Caterpillar. “The co-op program allowed me to experiment and look at some of the engineering analysis applications we had. In a drive-line analysis group we looked at some of the engineering applications of software,” adds Leman. “That helped spark my interest in the software for my senior project.” This connection between the co-op program and his engineering major solidified where he wanted to begin his career.

After graduating from Caterpillar’s college training program, Leman was selected to become a member of a computer-aided engineering group under the direction of Weber. Their paths have crossed consistently over the past 24 years; it’s been a highly productive Caterpillar team.

Working on many projects both at home and at work keeps Leman in touch with his creative mindset. Perhaps one of the most fascinating challenges he has undertaken involves his two sons and his penchant for water skiing. “I put a pond in last year, but it’s not big enough to pull a boat around. So, I’m working on an overhead system that could tow a skier around the lake,” smiles Leman. “I think the boys are looking forward to it. Our land in Eureka is my playground, and our sons think so, too. They are not afraid to take things apart. They’ve surprised me a couple of times by taking things apart and putting them back together. Nothing earth shattering – just trying to ‘help dad out.’ I keep tools and lumber in a certain area for them so everything is fair game.”

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