Ed Welburn, Howard Alumni Retires After 44 Years At General Motors’ Designing World Renowned Cars

Ed Welburn, Howard Alumni recently retired from General Motors’ after 44 years. Mr. Welburn was GM’s first global head of design.

Mr. Welburn went to art school at Historical Black College (HBCU)  Howard University during which time one of his professors was the great Harlem renaissance painter Lois Jones.

The school created a car design curriculum for Welburn from within the art school. Welburn shared with npr.0rg about how amazing his college days were.

“You could hear Roberta Flack in the music studio studying. You go down the hall … and there’s Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad there studying. We were all students together. That was an incredible environment in which to grow,” he says. It was that environment in art school that burnished his skills as an artist and placed him firmly in the black art world.

Welburn started with an internship at GM’s sculpture studio. This is why we say intern!  Welburn says he learned as much in those 10 weeks on the job as he would in two years in the classroom At the end of that summer, Welburn says he heard from his boss: “He said, ‘You just go back, finish your senior year at Howard. We wanna hire you.’ ”

His long career makes him the highest ranking African-American in the history of the auto industry. His first project was to design the tail lamp for the Pontiac Grand Ville.

His designs were staples in the car community!

He led the design team at Saturn. He was instrumental in designing or redesigning vehicles such as the Volt, the Hummer, the Escalade, the Corvette and many others.


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