Corvette Summer

Sometime in the early or mid-'70s I was sitting in my dentist's office looking at MotorTrend or some such magazine, reading an article that showed some concepts of what the future Corvette might look like. At the time, the current model was the Stingray, which I thought was a very cool car. Looking at those prototype renderings, however, I thought, "What dope came up with this idea?" Several ye...

05/01/2003


Sometime in the early or mid-'70s I was sitting in my dentist's office looking at MotorTrend or some such magazine, reading an article that showed some concepts of what the future Corvette might look like. At the time, the current model was the Stingray, which I thought was a very cool car. Looking at those prototype renderings, however, I thought, "What dope came up with this idea?" Several years later, and with the endorsement of Michael Jordan, a sleek new 'Vette rolled out and captured a whole new segment of car enthusiasts. I bring up this childhood recollection because with this issue, CSE launches a significant redesign. Over the past couple of years, we've been tweaking the magazine to improve its look, and last June we even made some significant changes to freshen it up. But those were only short-term fixes and a true retooling was needed, both visually and functionally, to reflect the new direction of the publication.

By no means am I trying to compare the old CSE to the classic Stingray, but in trying to push this new look through, I think the "don't fix what ain't broken" mindset was prevalent. There are some who like their technical journals stuffy and textbook-like. I'm not one of them, and neither is our art director, Terry Ntovas. And I'm not sure whether I should have been insulted at the time, but Terry, in taking the position last fall, told me she could raise the visual look of the magazine threefold. In my opinion, she has. But more importantly, Terry identified a number of things that were visually "broken," including our logo.

In addressing these issues, and to truly produce a sleeker product, I hope the book's new look is not only more reader-friendly, but also more fun—a word not often associated with engineering. It's fair to say many engineers tend to be stereotyped. In fact, I recall a conversation with a stylishly dressed engineer on this subject. One of the things he told me the magazine could do for the industry was to help with this image problem, and jokingly, he added CSE could stand for "Cool, Sexy Engineer." I can't go that far, but presenting a cooler-looking publication will hopefully convey to others outside the community that our readers—engineers—are people too, and people who like cool things like Corvettes.

That being said, I also want to credit our "curb your enthusiasm" publisher Rob Goulding, who at the time of the redesign's proposal, made me work for it, insisting on a well thought-out and documented plan that included internal feedback and formal reader research. While the process delayed the launch date I had hoped for, it only made the book stronger and proved invaluable in providing some reader insight and ideas for new departments and features for next year.

Finally, be heartened that this move will not sacrifice substance for style. I want to strive to maintain both. You be the judge, and take it out for a spin.





No comments