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The road to a superhighway

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August 11, 2015

What contains a powerful computer with technologies such as WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth but is relatively inaccessible? Answer:  your car.

CEO of VinliMark Haidar ‘08 is about to change the way we interact with our automobiles.

Mark Haidar, CEO of Vinli and Dr. Mark Paulik

Mark Haidar (l) with Dr. Mark Paulik

Haidar, who holds a Master’s degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering, returned to his alma mater August 10 speaking with faculty about the state of automobile technology and Vinli's plan to revolutionize it.

There is so much technology fragmentation in the automobile industry.  Every automaker uses its own technology,” saysHaidar.  “Companies decide on technology three years ahead of time of production.  When the vehicle leaves the assembly plant, the technology is outdated.

The problem is compounded since vehicles stay on the road for an average of twelve years.  “There’s no way to change or upgrade the technology.  There is a disconnect between the car and the smartphone,” says Haidar.

Haidar’s company, Vinli, created a device that plugs into the one unique feature all vehicles produced since 1996 are required to have — the On-Board Diagnostic System or the OBD-II port.

The device simply plugs into the vehicles OBD-II port, typically located under the driver's side dash, and drivers and passengers can harness its power through mobile apps available in the Vinli app store.  There are apps available to notify in real-time with GPS coordinates of the vehicle’s whereabouts should it be stolen; to control teen drivers routes and speeds; and navigate the vehicle’s systems and get notified of any problems. Then, of course, there is the WiFi hotspot, connecting passengers to connection speeds faster than most home Internet services.

Haidar’s road to successful CEO has not been easy.  He came to the United States from his home in Lebanon after receiving his VISA within three days.  At the same time, war broke out in his country.  Haidar escaped Lebanon and landed without any financial support, or a support network, at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). 

Haidar sought a job at a local gas station that he claims was the hardest job he ever had.  His excellent academic work led Haidar to assist the University on a grant application. He would become the lead researcher on the US army’s Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering the Center (TARDEC) connected car project while at UDM. This helped to fund his tuition and allowed him to focus on academics.

I am very thankful for the opportunities I received at UDM,” says Haidar.  “As a CEO, it is difficult to find engineers with the experience I need.  I would love to hire engineers from UDM because I am confident of the knowledge and training that they received here.

For more information on Vinli, please see:

Learn more about the University of Detroit Mercy:

(from left Dr. Nizar Al-Holou, Mark Haidar, Dr. Mohan Krishnan, Dr. Mark Paulik, Dr. Utayba Mohammed)
(from left Dr. Nizar Al-Holou, Mark Haidar, Dr. Mohan Krishnan, Dr. Mark Paulik, Dr. Utayba Mohammed)
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