The Millionaire Next Door

Where Did the Designer of Your Car’s Engine Attend College?

Thank you, Mr. S.Y., for your recent 5-star review of The Millionaire Mind.  In it you succinctly explained the book’s theme, focusing on the key table [Table 2-1] “Millionaire Success Factors.”

. . . least important (success factor) . . . graduating near/at the top of my class.  (ranked 30th of 30 factors)

This component is one of three that make up the Intellectual Orientation domain.  The others include : “having a high IQ/superior intellect” (ranked 21st) and “attending a top-rated college” (ranked 23rd).

Only 5.0 percent of millionaire business owners and 8.0 percent of senior corporate executives rated “graduating near/at top of my class” very important in explaining their socioeconomic success.  Only 12.0 percent of each group respectively rated “attending a top-rated college” as very important.

Bear with me now.  This discussion of success factors does have something to do with the highly touted 2015 Z06 Corvette featured on the cover of the January 2015 issue of Car and Driver.  The Corvette is powered by a 376 cubic inch supercharged “small block V-8.”  This engine was originally designed [with 265] in the early 1950s by Ed Cole and his engineering staff at Chevrolet.  It debuted in 1955 and was all new, high revving, durable, light weight, and compact.  The crank shaft, according to Automotive News, was only 21.75 inches.   Cole had the foresight to recognize that in the future engines would have to have even more power.   His innovative design did in fact accommodate increasing the internal displacement of the motor and thus its horsepower.   Over the years many modifications have been made to the “small block.”  Yet its basic design remains and it is still compact. 

Ed Cole did not attend a top rated college, no not MIT, not Cal Tech either.  According to Automotive News:

He attended Grand Rapids Junior College (later) enrolling at the General Motors Institute . . . .

As a driver I have put more than a few miles on cars that were powered by “small block” Chevrolet V-8s.  Where the designer attended college had zero to do with my choice of motor vehicle.  And I’m certain that those who owned cars powered by the more than 100 million “small blocks” were of the same mind set.


2 thoughts on “Where Did the Designer of Your Car’s Engine Attend College?”

  1. Sir,

    I have to point out that Kettering University (formerly GMI) is ranked at the 20th best school in the Midwest region by US News. They have always had a great reputation for engineering in the Midwest especially in the Automotive Industry.

  2. Jane, I noticed the same thing you did about GMI. My thought on that is as follows: there are indeed some benefits to attending a highly rated specialized school in a narrow set of circumstances, but overall the formula is not “highly rated school = drastically increased changes for success”.

    The general idea that a highly ranked school always = better success has been effectively refuted as far as I’m concerned. Individuals as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are solid examples of very successful people who succeeded without degrees from highly acclaimed universities. Consumers of higher education should realize that a History class at the local community college is basically of the same value as one taken at Oxford or Harvard. Where a person gets his or her education is useful, to a point, but there are other factors that contribute much more to success and wealth building. I think that’s the overall point of this post and Stanley’s research.

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