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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Five questions for Michael Pecht, reliability detective

Michael Pecht feels like Sherlock Holmes sometimes, and not just because he plays violin on the side. He's a reliability engineer by trade. He runs a 120-person team at the University of Maryland, where the workload includes digging into the mystery of why complex electronics don't work properly. "We get some new problem all the time," he said. "It's just really fascinating." Pecht, who founded the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering in 1986 and has run it since, was a consultant to Congress during the investigation of reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, and more recently for the General Motors ignition-switch recall. He's...