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A Conversation with Ward Atkinson on A/C history & GM

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

In this video (see link below), MACS technical advisor Ward Atkinson discusses the early days of mobile A/C development, and some of his experiences while working at GM (specifically the Chevrolet Division of General Motors) during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He also talks about the development and testing of various system designs and components, such as CCOTs (cycling clutch orifice tubes), TXV (thermal expansion valves), STV (suction throttling valves), POA (pilot operated absolute pressure) valves and series reheat systems. Ward also talks about his first involvement with MACS, our founder Simon Oulouhojian, the Montreal Protocol, replacing R-12 with R-134a, the Ozone Layer and the US EPA Environmental Protection Agency.


Ward started his career at General Motors in the spring of 1952 when he was hired by Chevrolet Engineering to work on the first front-mounted air conditioning system, then destined for the new 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. He spent the next 30 years working on A/C and engine cooling at GM before retiring in 1981. He then founded Sun Test Engineering, where he consulted with many of our industry’s largest and most well-known OE and Tier 1 manufacturers, working with them to improve their component and system designs, and overall A/C system performance (with the ultimate goal of providing the vehicle owner / operator with the best heating and cooling performance at the best price.

Ward also spent more than 60 years working with the SAE ICCSC (Interior Climate Control Standards Committee, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers “Defroster Committee”), where he helped write sections of FMVSS103 (the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard # 103 for windshield defrosting and defogging systems), acted as Chairman for a number of years, and has written many technical articles for both MACS and SAE. He is still active in the industry, and continues to work as technical adviser to MACS Worldwide, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society. Ward was honored for his many years of service by SAE in 2014 and as an “Industry Pioneer” by MACS in 2003.

During the MACS 2016 Training Event and Trade Show in Orlando, Florida, Ward sat down with MACS’ Steve Schaeber to record the following video.

Here’s a link to watch the video on MACS YouTube Channel:

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