AKRON—Abdullah Al Amin hasn't been in the tire industry long, but so far he likes what he's seen. And better yet, he sees a future for himself in the business.
After earning his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Case Western University, he went to work at Bridgestone Americas as a research engineer, with most of his work related to computational analysis.
Unfortunately, Al Amin had to take a break from his career last year during the pandemic after spending three years with Bridgestone. His son was born prematurely, and he needed to devote his time to helping care for his child. He said his son is improving but still is not completely recovered.
His brief tenure in the tire industry was enough to whet his appetite, though, to know that he looks forward to returning to the tire sector when the time is right. There always are challenges, particularly with new mobility evolving at lightning speed.
"The requirements of the tires when we design them are changing constantly," Al Amin said. "As an engineer, we need to constantly be on our feet to make all of those changes so the tires are performing better and meet the needs of tire customers,"
Working at one of the largest tire and rubber companies in the world, he found lots of support from the staff there. "It's a friendly atmosphere," he said. "Definitely I brought some skills which were beneficial to Bridgestone. But there are quite a lot of experienced people over there if I had any questions. There were always people willing to lend a hand if I needed help at any time in any case."
His background in computational mechanics and finite element analysis proved quite useful in tire development. As a customer, he knows he would want a tire that would last long at a reasonable cost.
"There can be many different ways of cutting down the cost of tires," Al Amin said. "One would be if we could reduce the number of physical tests, reducing some resources that go into making sure the tires are well-designed."
Today's suite of digital tools go a long way in helping to check multiple conditions without having to physically build a tire.
"When we are able to do some computational analysis and test many conditions, and pick the best from those, that makes the tire better and addresses all of the requirements customers are asking for," Al Amin said.
He foresees much change on the horizon for tire performance requirements. For example, if autonomous trucks and semis become more commonplace, owners will look for them to run longer periods of time. And with the shift toward electric vehicles, certain businesses—such as Amazon delivery and Uber or Lyft—will look for vehicles to run more hours during the day.
That means designing tires that will run flat, as the vehicle still needs to reach its destination. That also could lead to non-pneumatic tire designs.
"The expectations are these vehicles must stay on road (for) a much longer period of time with significantly reduced downtime," Al Amin said. "Since the tire is the only object that comes in direct contact with the road, the engineers are at play to provide the best design so it can operate in any condition."
During his break from the business, he has continued his studies as a post-doctoral scholar at Northwestern University, gaining more knowledge when he returns to work. He expects to join Endurica L.L.C., likely in a consultancy role.
Coupling his experience at Bridgestone with the post-doctoral work, he is honing his computational modeling skills. "I foresee myself working more into design and modeling, so we can make the computational models more efficient and get to the point where we will have an ideal digital twin of a tire," he said.
Al Amin also recommends the tire industry to those looking for an existing industry where transformation is ongoing.
"If anyone wants to challenge themselves by pushing their knowledge of engineering or any other topic, it's going to be an exciting career if they are considering the tire or polymer industry seriously," he said. "I definitely would encourage them to explore it, and I just want to say they will not be disappointed."