Inside Plus: Chaozhe He, Senior Software Engineer — Control Systems & Fuel Economy
Before joining Plus in July 2021, Chaozhe He worked on fuel optimization and connected vehicles. This is an area of expertise he started building as a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. His research focused on using automation to optimize efficiency in heavy-duty vehicles. Later, at Navistar, he worked on powertrain design optimization as a way to improve fuel economy.
On what led him to Plus, Chaozhe said: “At Plus there is a mindset of driving innovation. You can jump on things quickly and make an impact. That’s one of the things that attracted me to Plus.”
Q: Tell us about your educational background
A: “I majored in math in college. My heart was in automotive and autonomous vehicles even though at that time the industry was just starting. Michigan was a good place for that. Not only does it have a good automotive program but there are a lot of OEMs in the area. I’m glad I made that choice. I got into the industry through that channel and also got to attend a great school with a lot of community and culture.”
Q: How did you hear about Plus and what inspired you to join the team?
A: “I was working on prototyping and autonomous technology at Navistar. I knew the Plus engineering team to be very capable and talented. And I saw that the company was making important progress in the autonomous trucking industry.
I started to feel the company might be a good place for me. So when an opportunity came up for me to contribute in the area of control, planning, and fuel economy, it was a no-brainer for me to jump on it.”
Q: Tell us about your role at Plus
A: “I focus on fuel economy planning and control. A significant part of the fuel economy improvement in our autonomous driving technology comes from the interactions our system has in traffic. So, I look at our current designs in planning and control that deal with heavy traffic — how we gauge the fuel benefits brought by our design in traffic, and build on it, making improvements to increase the benefits even more.”
Q: Before Plus, much of your work was research-oriented. How does the experience working for a technology company differ from your previous professional experiences?
A: “The culture at Plus is more efficient, things move faster, and everyone jumps on things very quickly without having to go through a long chain of decisions. There is the mindset of getting close to actual production.”
Q: How would you describe your co-workers?
A: “Passionate. People are very excited about their work which is what junior engineers like me are looking for.”
Q: What drives you to work on autonomous trucking?
A: “It’s quite simple. The trucking industry drives the economy that impacts every single one of us. Trucking is crucial to the e-commerce boom and operates 24/7 transporting goods. So it’s the backbone of the delivery system. Because of that, if you improve fuel economy by only 1 percent, you can save billions of dollars.
The environmental benefit is also huge. You can reduce millions of tons of carbon emissions by improving fuel economy by just 1 percent. The impact is huge just because the industry is so fundamental to our economy.
The idea of optimizing things and making things better is always in me. So this is a good avenue for me.”
Q: What do you do in your downtime?
A: “Lots of sports: football, basketball, and soccer. I also watch sports, both professional and college. The Michigan team is my favorite.”