UNL grad innovates to create new 'Vette seat

· 3 min read

UNL grad innovates to create new ‘Vette seat

Reporter Matt Miller (left) and UNL alumnus Shawn Meagher in a screen shot from a Bloomberg News video report on the Corvette's new super-seats.

UNL graduate Shawn Meagher helped put an end to one of the biggest knocks on one of GM’s most iconic sports cars not by looking ahead, but by looking at, um, behinds.

Meagher, a 2010 graduate from UNL’s College of Engineering who is now a performance engineer for General Motors, is the brains behind the Corvette’s new seats. Previous generations of the classic car’s seat have been criticized for feeling ill-designed and uncomfortable – but Meagher’s education at UNL laid the groundwork for the innovation that all new ‘Vette drivers can enjoy.

How did he do it? With the help of the GM-created “seat drive team” – a collection of employees of all shapes and sizes – Meagher had the chance to map their posteriors and found 467 points on a driver’s backside. The result? A new seat optimized for comfort and support.

The development of the new seats is getting national buzz this week, including a March 11 national story by Bloomberg News.

“The important thing, especially in a car like this, it’s your main communication with the road,” Meagher said in the video interview with Bloomberg, in which he takes a reporter along for a test drive. “You’re feeling everything that’s going on, that’s communicating what the car’s doing.

“That’s how you’re going to get the most out of the car.”

The new seats are designed with cast magnesium, similar to seats in the Maserati and Ferrari. It’s something Meagher worked with throughout his time at UNL.

After earning his undergraduate degree in 2008, Meagher earned his master’s degree through the double degree master’s program from UNL and from the University of Rouen in France.

“They set him up to work with plastics and polymers and he specialized polycarbonates,” said Mehrdad Negahban, professor of mechanical and materials engineering, who worked extensively with Meagher during his time at UNL. “I’m happy that (Shawn) went on to do good things in the world.”

Meagher is one of many students in the mechanical and materials engineering department interested in automotive design, said Jeff Shield, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

“He focused on materials engineering and it’s great that he’s getting to use his skills, including ones he gained at UNL, to pursue his dream,” Shield said.

See Bloomberg’s reports – including Meagher’s test drive with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller, and another featuring Miller discussing the innovation behind the new seats.

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