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About Hug Your Engine

About Kelly

In 2016, Dr. Kelly Senecal was asked to speak at the TEDx event in Madison, Wisconsin on a topic of his choosing. He almost did his presentation on the benefits of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the focus of his company’s engineering software. But, while that is an important topic, a more mainstream “idea worth spreading” was In Defense of Internal Combustion.


And it was good timing. The video was released online in early 2017, which Kelly refers to sarcastically as the year combustion died. Media headlines declaring the IC engine’s death were frequent and widespread—so much so that combustion researchers were starting to doubt the long-term outlook of their work. As someone who believes that combustion is part of the future transportation solution (and develops tools to improve it), Kelly took to social media to present the opposing view.


Kelly has long been an advocate and promoter of creating cleaner combustion engines as part of a diverse mix of propulsion system technologies.  For many years, he has been raising public awareness of the use and improvement of a portfolio of propulsion technologies for future transportation through many channels. He speaks to audiences around the globe about the importance of reducing the environmental impact of propulsion systems considering a holistic view, including life-cycle analysis, impact on consumers, and more. Starting with that TEDx talk, he has been promoting the search hashtags #HugYourEngine and #TheFutureIsEclectic through articles, social media, and in his podcast, The Eclectic Highway.

Kelly co-authored a book, “Racing Toward Zero,” that explores the issues inherent in developing sustainable transportation. In the book, he and his co-author review the types of propulsion systems and vehicle options, discuss low-carbon fuels and alternative energy sources, and examine the role of regulation in curbing emissions.

Combustion isn’t outdated technology—it’s relevant and extremely important. Instead, it’s a big part of a broad portfolio of vehicle propulsion technologies for future transportation. From this, “Hug Your Engine” was born. Kelly truly believes that one of the most immediate ways to go green is by further improving the IC engine.


Kelly Senecal has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a co-owner and co-founder of Convergent Science, an SAE Fellow, and his technical articles have been cited more than 3,000 times.


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TEDx Video

In Defense of Internal Combustion

Guest Authors


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Graham Conway, Ph.D.

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Principal Engineer & HEDGE Program Manager


Felix Leach

Felix Leach, Ph.D.

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Associate Professor of Engineering Science

University of Oxford

Andrea Strzelec

Andrea Strzelec, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Mississippi State University

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