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Special Recognition Awards

The Special Recognition Award is designed to recognize individual OEM participants who excelled in the past year and demonstrated their exceptional commitment to USCAR by going above and beyond the call of duty. It recognizes those whose leadership inspires their teams to achieve greatness.

John Czubay, GM engineering specialist, was recognized for leading the U.S. DRIVE Electrical/Electronics (E/E) Tech Team to better align the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) project portfolio with industry needs.  He also led the creation of several key E/E Tech Team documents, including: the 2025 on-board charger targets, the updated E/E Tech Team roadmap, and the annual assessment of DOE-funded projects.

Eve Drzyzga, GM anthropomorphic test device project engineer, was a key contributor to the USCAR Occupant Safety Research Partnership and facilitator for biofidelity tests using the WorldSID female side-impact dummy.  She worked extra hours to prepare and assist with the sled test instrumentation, sled pulse, and full-scale values, as well as arranging photo coverage and analysis.  She also prepared documentation and presentationof test results for the ISO working groups and the WorldSID 5th Technical Evaluation Group, chaired by NHTSA.

Oliver Gross, FCA US technical fellow, Energy Storage Systems, is the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) program manager in charge of the Envia Systems Electric Vehicle battery contract, which at $7.7 million, is the highest valued project in the USABC portfolio.  He has provided expert technical direction, decisions and financial reviews.  The program is midway through its three year contract, and due to his efforts, the program not only remains on schedule and budget, but appears to be delivering baseline hardware that exceeds the cell design specifications.

Ken Hardman, FCA US engine development specialist, is company lead for the U.S. DRIVE Advanced Combustion and Emission Control (ACEC) Tech Team. He led the ACEC to develop and deliver its 2025 targets.  Thanks to his leadership and personal commitment, the team developed its approach, compiled needed data, created the necessary documents and vetted the results in a very short timeframe.  A defendable, data-driven and aligned position on 2025 engine efficiency targets was delivered in what could be considered record time.

Todd Mackintosh, GM technical specialist – lithium batteries, led the USABC Battery Recycling Group to update its mission statement and objectives, and host several cross-functional workshops with industry partners to identify key gaps that USABC could potentially help resolve. These workshops resulted in the USABC Battery Recycling Group’s development of a color-coded battery chemistry identification method, which has been adopted by industry under SAE J2984. Additionally, he led development of a USABC RFPI to reuse recovered cell materials in automotive formatted cell designs.

Hiroko Ohtani, Ford technical expert, is a member of the USCAR Transmission Working Group Fluids Team.  Following a number of member transitions, she assumed leadership of the team.  She worked with partner companies to develop an anti-shudder durability test method for dual clutch transmission fluids using a DC motor-driven friction test machine – or GK test bench – which was capable of differentiating the short- and long-lived DCT fluids.  The work was documented in an internal USCAR report and shared in an SAE presentation.  Without her efforts, the project would not have been completed.

John Opra, FCA US product development engineer, is company lead for the Engine Benchmarking Group and has been instrumental in proactively harmonizing the engine benchmarking efforts.  Previously, each OEM performed its own NVH fingerprint test.  Through Opra’s efforts, one standardized NVH fingerprint test is now conducted by FEV with data available to each member OEM.  Additionally, he coordinated a ‘round robin’ V8 collaborative evaluation among the USCAR members.  Each of these initiatives resulted in both significant cost and time savings.   

William Pien, retired Ford Aerodynamics supervisor and technical expert, was a leader and mentor within the Aerodynamics Working Group for seven years.  He was instrumental in crafting the J2881 SAE Aero reporting standard and formulating an algorithm for open jet Wind Tunnel correction. This allowed normalization of the USCAR OEM wind tunnel results, enabling comparison to data from other wind tunnels on a more equalized basis.  Additionally, he was a key contributor to the Automotive Aerodynamics University Center of Excellence proposal to the National Science Foundation in 2015. 

Brian Robert, Ford research engineer, is a member of the USABC Technical Advisory Committee and led a U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC) workgroup to develop a request for proposal information (RFPI) targeting USABC programs for Battery System Components.  This was the first USABC workgroup using a systems approach to USABC goals. Robert’s leadership resulted in identification of battery systems and components and a priority ranking agreed upon by USCAR and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and finally, an RFPI for the Development of a Thermal Management System for Lithium Batteries Used in Vehicle Applications.

Bill Studzinski, GM Global Propulsion Systems Fuels Group manager, leads the U.S. DRIVE Fuels Working Group as automotive co-chair. He was instrumental in developing the group’s roadmap and timelines – including specific elements to ensure engagement by all members. In addition, he spearheaded an ongoing effort to rewrite the ASTM gasoline specification (D4814) with respect to octane ratings, and was a key contributor to completing the test programs and data analysis.  His influence has positioned U.S. DRIVE as a leader in the industry-wide Co-Optimization of Engines and Fuels Initiative.

Xiang (Sean) Zhao, GM staff researcher, is a member of the Manufacturing Working Group, and was a major contributor to the creation of three new strategic initiatives for USCAR’s Manufacturing TLC, taking the lead on the Additive Manufacturing initiative.  He also was a key contributor to three important projects: virtual color assessment; paint surface performance prediction; and Weld Repair Procedures for Advanced High Strength Steel.  His efforts enabled these projects to be completed quickly and efficiently.