Edward T. Welburn Jr. began his career at General Motors in 1972 as an associate designer with the Advanced Design Studios. In 1973 he joined the Buick Exterior Studio where he worked on the Black Riviera and Park Avenue. Later, he was assigned to the Oldsmobile Exterior Studio. There, he led the development of a number of successful production vehicles and designed the Oldsmobile Aerotech speed-record vehicle, which set two world records of more than 257 miles per hour.
The Oldsmobile brand, started by Ransom Eli Olds in 1897 was the oldest car company in America. Mr. Welburn was named chief designer of the Oldsmobile Studio in 1989. Welburn’s projects included the Oldsmobile Antares concept car, and the Oldsmobile Intrigue, both of which received AutoWeek magazine awards.
In 1996 Welburn began a two-year assignment at Saturn in Germany, and later named director of GM’s Advanced Design Team in Warren, Michigan. His team was responsible for the development of new and innovative vehicles for all GM brands, as well as the development of all GM concept vehicles, including the Chevy SSR and a new generation of hydrogen fuel cell concepts.
In 2002 Ed Welburn was appointed executive director of design, body-on-frame architectures. In this position, he was responsible for the three truck studios at the GM Design Center that produced the Hummer H3, Cadillac Escalade and the latest generation of full-size trucks scheduled to reach the market in 2006.
Named vice president of GM Design North America, Mr. Welburn became the sixth design leader in GM history and later named to the newly created position of GM vice president of global design, and the first to lead all of the company’s global design centers. In his new position as vice president of global design, Welburn created a network of 10 Design Centers in the United States, Germany, England, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India. He and his team of more than 1,500 people are responsible for the design development of every GM concept and production car and truck globally.
Ed Welburn received the Distinguished Service Citation from the Automotive Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals for their significant contributions to the auto industry. He is on the board of directors for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan.
He has been recognized and honored by several impressive organizations and institutions.
He received the Man of Excellence Award from the Michigan Chronicle and made the list of the Ebony Power 150: The Most Influential Blacks in America as recognized by Ebony magazine. Black Enterprise magazine named Welburn as one of the 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.
Welburn, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s degree from the College of Fine Arts at Howard University, where he studied sculpture and product design.
In 2012, Mr. Welburn received the inaugural “Nicola Bulgari Award” for outstanding contributions to preserving America’s automotive heritage through education, restoration or collecting classic cars in conjunction with the grand opening of LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. Also, Mr. Welburn was recognized recently by the Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Sites Commission for being the first African American to lead a global automotive Design organization.