Kenyon Kluge Zero to 60 IEEE Spectrum

26 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Kenyon Kluge Zero to 60 IEEE Spectrum отключены
Tazzari Zero Electric Cars

An electrical engineer with a for motorcycles finds a job designing dirt bikes

This is part of IEEE Spectrum’s Report on Dream Jobs .


Kenyon an IEEE member, has merged two a Silicon Valley engineer and as a racerinto one at Zero Motorcycles.

Jobs 2009

Kenyon grabs a leather jacket his office and heads down the to the manufacturing floor at Zero a maker of high-performance, all-electric bikes. He stops to take a of knee-high boots, a helmet, and from a shelf and then a gleaming new Zero X dirt off its rack.

For the next hour or so, be darting cleanly and quietly up the that wind through the near the company’s Scotts Calif. facility. And all the while be working, too.

Until a ago, Kluge led a double Monday through Friday, he was a Silicon Valley engineer. On he was a top motorcycle track racer, in events all over the United

Now, as Zero Motorcycle’s of engineering, he has managed to merge his with his profession.

Kluge’s journey into began early, when he for a physics program for middle-schoolers run by the University of California campus. For a year, the 13-year-old spent his studying on campus with or out on the boardwalk at the Santa Cruz measuring the g-forces generated by the Dipper roller coaster. he graduated from high in 1992, tight family ruled out a four-year college.

he registered at an ITT Technical Institute in the Los area to work toward an degree in electronics, expecting to to a four-year EE program.

He never did get four-year degree; real-world proved too captivating. While at ITT, he interned with a who built new-product prototypes. getting his associate’s degree in he went to Extreme Networks, a in Santa Clara that one of the first gigabit Ethernet In 2000, he moved on to chipmaker in San Jose.

There he worked on one of the ”softcore” microprocessors, devices can be implemented on a programmable logic such as a field-programmable gate (FPGA).

Much of that Kluge was racing. He’d ridden a dirt bike on a to a California ranch when he was 11 old, but his parents refused to let him anything to do with motorcycles that. In 1994, however, he turned 18 and no longer needed his permission, he got a motorcycle license and a Kawasaki EX500.

”From the start I wanted to but I didn’t really know how to go it,” he recalls. He spent the three years figuring it Then, in August 1997, he his motorcycle into a friend’s and they drove to Sears (now Infineon Raceway) in Calif. camping overnight in a field. For his first race, he the 750-cubic-centimeter Superbike class, one of the and toughest categories.

Way out of his league, he wrecked the bike, and dislocated his

Two months later he went This time he didn’t He didn’t even finish

He continued as a weekend racer 2002 and then took a leave of absence from his job as a engineer at Altera to race time on the American Motorcyclist pro racing circuit, crisscrossing the living out of an RV. He placed 15th out of 94 in the Xtreme class. But 27 is late to pro in motorcycle racing, and after the ended he went back to

He was assigned to a group creating product designs to support of Altera’s FPGAs. The work was but because the group didn’t products to sell, they got support within the company. By he was tired of hearing, as he puts it, want this and want it but we don’t want to give you any to go do it.” He began thinking leaving.

He decided to look for an job in the one field that really him: motorcycles. He reasoned as an EE, his best shot would be a company that built systems, the most sophisticated component on a motorcycle. Such monitor wheel speeds, throttle, braking, and other to determine if the vehicle is sliding; if it is, the make adjustments to stop the

Kluge drew up a list of and sent out résumés. He was willing to if necessary. He got a few responses but no hard

Tazzari Zero Electric Cars

Then, last February, he a call from Gabriel an engineer at Zero. DeVault had of Kluge’s racing career friends of friends, and he wondered if could put Zero’s prototype dirt bike through its DeVault had no idea that was an EE who was looking for a job.

Kluge the bike and was impressed. ”I had it to be more of a toy, but it really It was a full-blown bike,” he says. He and chatted about the bike and the

DeVault mentioned that he was in a bit of a jam one of the contract engineers he’d using to design and build boards was no longer available.

told DeVault that he in engineering and knew some who could do the work; soon he arranged to have a run of boards billing Zero for a couple of of his time. In the process, he visited the Scotts Valley office and to founder Neil Saiki and employees. In April, when additional financing came Zero hired Kluge as head of the electronics department, at that point was just him and an

But by the end of the year, the company’s ranks had to 30â¿¿plus, and Kluge had advanced to of engineering.

At Zero, Kluge designs boards and arranges for their defines the interface between the suspension, and motor; and helps what subsystems to use. He some of the control circuitry for the power control, speed and user interface systems, and he the software that manages the lithium-ion battery pack. He supervises a growing staff of and electrical engineers.

And he rides. when he’s out on the hilly winding through the trees and fields on the western slope of the Cruz Mountains, he thinks what he’d like to in the next model, a street-legal due out this winter. Other he just rides for the thrill of it. a gas bike, he says, the electric doesn’t make you wait for the to ramp up to speed, and it has virtually no noise.

You just crank the and blast forward with a whoosh as the air gets out of your

Someday all dirt bikes be electric, he says. Noise and trail degradation from exhaust have been dirt-bike riders against all over the United States. a conflict that has to be resolved, says, and the electric trail is the way to do it. An electric bike, he says, is not ”doing the right thing; it us more rights as riders.”

Kluge also likes his work could have a impact on the motorcycle world. could go work for a gas-bike but everything there has already done. I’d be making incremental changes to wiring or electronics. Here I get to define an electric motorcycle is going to

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Tazzari Zero Electric Cars
Tazzari Zero Electric Cars

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