October 29, 2012

The Driver's Seat Twitter Campaign: Brad

In The Driver’s Seat of the Westport Twitter account for the next week is Brad, who is based at Westport head office in Vancouver, Canada.

Brad works in the Heavy-Duty (HD) business unit at Westport, where he is responsible for the sales teams for North America and Australia as well as the marketing, government and regulatory affairs teams, who coordinate their efforts in support of the sales teams. As a result, Brad travels regularly across North America to meetings or events with customer or prospective fleets, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers.

Picture of Brad

Brad finds satisfaction in interacting with colleagues and business partners, “working with prospective fleets to identify Westport solutions that will meet their business needs,  lower their operational costs and reduce the environmental impact of their business.” He enjoys the opportunity Westport presents him, “to participate in a company that will have a transformational impact on the current transportation industry.”

In his downtime, Brad may be found on his bicycle, at Whistler skiing, or water-skiing behind his boat at Sakinaw Lake on BC’s gorgeous Sunshine Coast. He and his family have lived in Calgary, Toronto and, for the last 21 years, Vancouver.  Brad and his wife have two grown children – one in Calgary and the other in Sydney, Australia.

While Vancouver has a great selection of restaurants, Brad’s favourite is Malaysian.  Interestingly though, when asked what his indulgence is, he says simply “Cheezies!”

As mentioned, Westporters are taking turns in The Driver's Seat of our Twitter account (@WestportDotCom). To date we've heard from Nick SCaroline SJohn L & John HAstrid ZLance FMonica FFabioNicoleRonghuanMaureenManojMats and Tomas, and Melissa.

October 26, 2012

Fueling the Future: Advancing Technology for North America’s Transportation Future

Westport’s own Karen Hamberg, VP Sustainable Energy Futures, presented this week at a University of Calgary symposium on the future of transportation fuels. The Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISSEE) at the U of Calgary focused on this topic for the symposium because the shale gas revolution has changed the economics of energy, and could transform the transportation sector in North America.  The session was an opportunity for delegates to consider the pros and cons of such a transformation before making policy recommendations to government that could either support or deter natural gas transport. ISEEE partnered with The Van Horne Institute and Calgary Economic Development in presenting the symposium.
Speakers and delegates at the Fueling the Future symposium.
Photo courtesy of Bryndis K. Whitson, Van Horne Institute.
Karen along with Graham Williams, principal of G-PWilliams Consulting and Co-chair of the Natural Gas Group and the National Petroleum Future Transportations Fuels study, were invited because of their participation in the two-year study coordinated by the National Petroleum Council titled: Fueling the Future: Advancing Technology for North America’s Transportation Future. Hamberg and Williams wrote the natural gas portion of the study that was released in August 2012 and contributed to several other chapters.   
“Westport is still heavily involved in the ongoing outreach and communication efforts on behalf of the NPC,” explained Karen. “With recent infrastructure announcements from Shell and industry players like Encana, ATCO Gas and Cenovus Energy investing in natural gas vehicles, Alberta is one of Canada’s leaders in the shift towards natural gas for transportation.  We are delighted that our hosts from the University of Calgary brought such a diverse group of policy-makers, influencers, industry, academics and ENGOs together to discuss the economic, technological and infrastructure requirements for the deployment of natural gas vehicles.”
 The NPC study was developed for the U.S. Secretary of Energy to advise on the future of transportation fuels for automotive, air, truck, rail, and waterborne applications – specifically related to fuel demand, supply infrastructure and technology. Karen and Graham were among other officials from industry, academia and government who discussed the report findings to determine what actions industry and government can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from American transportation by 50 percent in the year 2050.
"Countries around the world are on the verge of transforming their energy system,” said David Layzell, Executive Director with ISEEE.  “To inform the policy and investment decision that will drive this transformation, we need to assess the costs, benefits and tradeoffs associated with various resources and technologies.  The NPC's study on Transportation fuels helps to fill this need."
For more information on the study, visit http://bit.ly/Md8CKi.

October 22, 2012

Westport Gears Up for United Way Campaign

By Ganesh Khanna

With the leaves changing colour and everyone awakening from their turkey stupor it can only mean one thing…Westport’s annual United Way Campaign is just around the corner!

Westport has always been a strong supporter of the United Way's work in the communities. The United Way’s approach to problems is to provide long term, meaningful solutions by focusing on the root causes, to get the greatest impact and outcomes. In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the United Way focuses on three primary issues:

1. Poverty, particularly children living in poverty

2. Bullying

3. Social isolation of seniors

Westport’s relationship with the United Way has grown from providing financial support to actively participating in programs that work to improve the lives of children where they live and learn. But as a multinational company, Westport’s impact in the community goes beyond just Vancouver, this year’s campaign hopes to address that by challenging our global locations to work with organizations in their communities.

The Westport campaign will be kicking off on October 31st with activities including the campaign launch luncheon, W-Bay online auction, and new events that will be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for further announcements.

For further information on the United Way please check out their sites:

Lower Mainland

October 18, 2012

Be a Driver for Change at Westport Connection Weekend at Science World

Have you ever wanted to find out what the connection is between natural gas and the milk on your cereal? Or how about learn how natural gas can help to make texting easier in India?

You can find out this weekend at Science World. As part of Around the Dome in 30 Days, Westport will be encouraging visitors to become a Driver for Change during Westport Connection Weekend. Westport volunteers will take future scientists through a circuit of fun and interactive activities, demonstrating the benefits of using sustainable energy – like natural gas - in their everyday lives. Participants will power a blender with their own energy, make carbon dioxide and learn about its effect on greenhouse gases as well as learn about natural gas as a fuel option by finding clues hidden on Westport’s own WiNG Power System Ford F250. After completing their challenges, participants will receive their very own Driver for Change license!

Westport is a supporter of Science World’s Bridging the Science Gap program – working to inspire youth towards careers in science and technology. As part of the program, Science World recently opened the Ken Spencer Science Park – an interactive outdoor space dedicated to educating youth about the future of new, clean technologies. Westport has sponsored the “Clean Transportation Story” exhibit, which helps demonstrate how everyday choices can impact our carbon footprint. Westport is proud to be part of this initiative and work with Science World to educate the public on how making more sustainable choices can help make an impact on the community.

Check out our Twitter page for updates and photos from the event!

October 17, 2012

The Driver's Seat Twitter Campaign: Melissa

In The Driver’s Seat of the Westport Twitter account for the next two weeks is Melissa, who is based at Westport head office in Vancouver, Canada.

In her role as program manager for the High Horsepower development team focused on rail at Westport, Melissa is currently focused on managing the design and development of an LNG tender car for use with natural gas locomotives in North America. This finds her travelling fairly often to meet with partners on decisions on the project.

New to Twitter herself, she says, “My only experience with Twitter was in 2009 when my husband decided he would tweet the birth of my second child.  It actually ended up being a good way of making our far-flung friends and family feel a part of the experience.”

When Melissa is not working, she may be found with her family – she has two children – or back home in Ontario, checking out GlobeandMail.com or interior design website Houzz.com for great ideas, or indeed eating.

Melissa says she loves food and it is very difficult to pick a favourite cuisine. “I like it all: Indian, Italian, Mexican, etc.  Although a night at Vancouver hotspot Vij’s Restaurant for some fantastic Indian fusion or a fresh caprese salad are high on my list!” Her indulgence is, in her words, “Wine, chocolate, as previously mentioned, food.  I wish I just had one favourite, but alas there are many.”

When asked who she would dine with, if she could choose anyone alive or dead, real or fictional, it is Melissa’s grandmother that she names. “She passed away many years ago and I miss the dinners we used to share at her table, which were often followed by long card games.” Being much younger when she lost her grandmother, Melissa says, “I failed to appreciate all the history she embodied and if we had one more dinner together, I would be sure to fill our conversation with questions about her life, in particular her time in the Air Force during the second World War.”

As mentioned, Westporters are taking turns in The Driver's Seat of our Twitter account (@WestportDotCom). To date we've heard from Nick SCaroline SJohn L & John HAstrid ZLance FMonica FFabioNicoleRonghuanMaureen, Manoj and Mats and Tomas.

October 15, 2012

Westport Volunteers in the Community Schools Program

Did you know that British Columbia has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada? Also, children in middle childhood, aged 6-12, spend about 67 hours a week in unstructured activities - that’s more time than they spend in school! As a result of the generous donations by Dr. Phillip Hill and Westport employees, we have the opportunity to become the United Way’s corporate partner with their Community Schools Program. These after-school programs are offered in most Vancouver schools for children aged 6-12 to provide a safe, fun, and educational environment. From 3:30pm to 5:00pm each school day, students are able to participate in a range of programs like academia, music, sports, crafts, and art, organized by the Vancouver School Board staff and trained volunteers.  

Starting today, three Westport employees get the chance to act as volunteer program leaders through the fall term at Lloyd George Elementary (just a few blocks away from Westport). These “Yarn Artists” (Teresa K., Kat W., Heidi C.) will help kids discover all the fun and creative things they can do with yarn - from making crochet holiday ornaments to cool accessories. The students will get to do a different project each week for the next seven weeks. What other fun things can you do with yarn?  

“I’m looking forward to teaching the lessons and think this is such a great experience for the students as well as the youth leaders (high school students) who get to learn about social responsibility by contributing to their own communities,” Teresa said. “When we teach high school students about social responsibility, we are creating a future community with caring people.”

At Westport, we recognize the responsibility we have to the neighbourhoods in which we live and work.

Check out this short video showing the kids' experience and the high school volunteers' perspectives: http://vsb.bc.ca/communityschoolteams

October 11, 2012

Westport Attends HHP Summit in Houston

A couple of weeks ago, the High Horsepower (HHP) team from Westport attended the first-ever HHP Summit in Houston, which brought together delegates from key industries (rail, mining, marine, drilling, agriculture, construction, and on-site power generation) to discuss the use of natural gas for high horsepower applications. Over three days, 60 keynote speakers and 800 delegates from around the world shared their visions and ideas for the future of natural gas, including its economic and environmental benefits.

As part of his keynote speech at the conference, Joel Feucht, Caterpillar’s Director of Gas Engine Strategy, underlined the economic incentives of moving to natural gas and confirmed Caterpillar’s intentions to go “all-in on natural gas”. Feucht confirmed that Caterpillar is committed to a long-term investment to provide natural gas fueled equipment and engines across its product lines. This signals that the industry recognizes Westport as a key partner in developing natural gas transportation solutions - and that the time for natural gas is now.

This statement comes shortly after Westport and Caterpillar announced their agreement to develop natural gas technology for the HHP off-road market. (Read original announcement). As you can imagine, Feucht’s remarks created a stir about what’s in store for the future of natural gas for high horsepower applications. Listen to the full speech here. As a principal sponsor of the event, we had our Westport WiNG™ Ford F-250 on display at the summit and Westporters on-site. With all of this activity, there was a sense of excitement surrounding all-things-Westport and we were happy to be a part of the summit.

In another key announcement last week, Canadian National Railways (CN) stated that it is exploring ways to make the switch from diesel to natural gas in powering its trains. CN is presently running two of its diesel-fired locomotives on natural gas as part of an evaluation program. This test also involves a longer term demonstration project with Westport, Electro-Motive Diesel (a Caterpillar subsidiary), and Quebec gas distributor Gaz Metro, with funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to develop a natural gas locomotive engine and tank car to carry the fuel. Westport eagerly anticipates the first results from the test engine in Q2 of 2013. Check back for future updates on the progress of natural gas for high horsepower applications and updates from our participation at the LNG 17 Conference in April.

October 1, 2012

The Driver's Seat Twitter Campaign: Mats & Tomas

In The Driver’s Seat of the Westport Twitter account for the next two weeks are Mats and Tomas, both based at the Westport facility providing natural gas systems for Volvo cars in Göteborg (or Gothenburg), Sweden.

Neither Mats nor Tomas have used Twitter before, but they have used Facebook a little. Mats’ favourite website is DagensIndustri.se (Swedish and international news and finance) and Tomas is an avid Google user.

Mats is the Commercial Director at Westport LD subsidiary in Sweden and Tomas is the Sales and Marketing Manager for the company, where natural gas systems are installed on Volvo cars. Tomas is often travelling within Sweden as a result. Tomas and Mats both enjoy exploring new possibilities in the natural gas automotive area. Being part of the natural gas alternative for Volvo, with their location right next to the Volvo headquarters, is interesting work.

When not working to grow the business making natural gas Volvo cars, Tomas may be found with his family, including two young children, skiing, fishing, at the cottage on the east coast of Sweden or in Greece. Mats, who has four grown children and a cat, enjoys time on his sail boat, skiing, hiking or walking in the forest and travelling Europe.

They both claim their favourite food is “raggmunk,” which perhaps does not sound appealing to English speakers at first, but in fact raggmunk are delicious potato pancakes! Gothenburg is a coastal city, so fish is often on the menu, but both men enjoy Italian food and Tomas is a fan of Greek cuisine as well.

When asked who each would choose to have dinner with, if it could be anyone alive or dead, real or fictional, both Mats and Tomas choose their wives. But they have other ideas as well. They list Bo Inge Andersson (a Swedish guy, CEO of the biggest Russian automotive company), whom they believe has an interesting job balancing interests in and outside his company. Mats and Tomas also chose Hillary Clinton, as one of the most influential women in the world, and Winston Churchill, for his determination – though they wish for the table to be wide as “we should not sit too close to him,” formidable figure that he was.

Finally, perhaps to tease their Canadian colleagues at Westport, they say they would like to have dinner with Leif Eriksson, the first European to discover an area that is now part of Canada, nearly 1000 years ago (the site is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list).

As mentioned, Westporters are taking turns in The Driver's Seat of our Twitter account (@WestportDotCom). To date we've heard from Nick SCaroline SJohn L & John HAstrid ZLance FMonica FFabioNicoleRonghuanMaureen, and Manoj.