Archive for the 'Distinguished Members' Category


Modular Dual-Layer Seat System was Grand Award & Body Interior Category Winner @ 46th #SPEInnovationAwards


The Modular Dual-Layer Seat System on the 2017 Lincoln Continental luxury sedan from Ford Motor Co. was the Grand Award and Body Interior Category winner in the 46th-annual SPE® Automotive Innovation Awards Competition. System suppliers, Leggett & Platt Inc. and Magna International; material processors, Summit Plastic Molding and Century Plastics; materials suppliers, BASF Corp., Advanced Composites, Inc., and DuPont Automotive; and tooling/equipment suppliers, Summit Plastic Molding and Mega Mold also were named on the award.


For more information, see and .

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® SPE is a registered trademark of the Society of Plastics Engineers. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Dr. Uday Vaidya Named SPE® Composites Person of the Year


The board of directors for the SPE® Composites Division have named Dr. Uday Vaidya, University of Tennessee/Oak Ridge National Laboratory (UT/ORNL) governor’s chair in Advanced Composites Manufacturing and professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Biomedical Engineering (MABE) at University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK) as well as chief technology officer for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) as the recipient of the group’s 2015-2016 Composites Person of the Year award. Vaidya was recognized at a special ceremony during the 2016 SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE), September 7-9 in Novi, Mich. in the Detroit suburbs.


First given in fiscal year 2004-2005, the Composites Person of the Year award publicly acknowledges a contributor who has provided significant aid to the SPE Composites Division, particularly during the prior year, as well as made broader contributions to the composites industry as a whole. Nominations are reviewed by the board and one recipient is selected by the current division chair in consultation with the current division awards chair.  Previous winners of the award and their employers at the time include:


  • 2004-2005: Dan Buckley, American GFM,
  • 2005-2006: John Muzzy, Georgia Institute of Technology,
  • 2006-2007: Jim Griffing, The Boeing Co.,
  • 2007-2008: Fred Deans, Allied Composite Technologies LLC,
  • 2008-2009: Peggy Malnati, Malnati & Associates LLC,
  • 2009-2010: Dale Grove, US Silica,
  • 2010-2011: Dale Brosius, Quickstep Composites LLC,
  • 2011-2012: Creig Bowland, PPG Industries,
  • 2012-2013: Michael Connolly, Huntsman Polyurethanes,
  • 2013-2014: Jim Griffing, The Boeing Co., and
  • 2014-2015: Dan Buckley, American GFM (Lifetime Achievement).


uday_headshotExplaining why he selected Vaidya, Dr. Michael Connolly, SPE Composites Division chair and program manager-urethane composites at Huntsman Polyurethanes said, “Uday was chosen for his long-time contributions to the SPE Composites Division, including nine years of leadership on the education committee and eight years organizing the SPE ACCE student poster competition. Last year he created a new program under the education committee that helps universities apply for funding from the Composites Division — with university matching funds — to purchase teaching materials and laboratory equipment. In addition to these contributions, his effort fostering student development by organizing and advising a new SPE student chapter at University of Tennessee-Knoxville benefits all of SPE as well as the plastics and composites industries. And last, but certainly not least, we wanted to recognize his considerable contributions to the composites industry, including numerous patents, publications — including two books — and presentations at SPE  and other industry meetings, industry training workshops, and efforts writing SPE education grants for universities. He has a passion for engineering education and has mentored hundreds of young engineers who’ve now made their way into our industry, including over 60 Master’s and doctoral students.”


In addition to his academic responsibilities, in his current role at IACMI, Dr. Uday Kumar Vaidya chairs the technical advisory board, oversees technology roadmapping efforts, and helps shape high-value industry-led projects for the institute. Since joining UTK, he also has led the establishment of the 10,000-ft2/929-m2 Fibers and Composites Manufacturing Facility (FCMF) to serve IACMI and the Tennessee Manufacturing Ecosystem.


Prior to joining UT/ORNL, Vaidya served as department chair for Materials Science & Engineering and as center director for the Composites Center at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He also helped establish and then, as director, led the Materials Processing & Applications Development (MPAD) center at UAB, which focused on leading-edge manufacturing and commercialization of engineered plastics, polymers, fibers, composites, and metal castings.


During his career, he has contributed extensively to research and development of engineered polymers, fibers, and composites and has experience with a broad range of composites for defense, transportation, and industrial applications. Additionally, he has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator (Co-I) on more than 100 projects worth over $22 million USD to date.


Vaidya has 29 years’ teaching experience at five academic institutions (UTK, UAB, North Dakota State University, Tuskegee University, and Auburn University) where he has developed and taught a variety of engineering courses to students from freshmen to graduate levels, and has been recognized with a variety of prestigious teaching awards, including Outstanding Faculty Member Award for the College of Engineering at UTK (2016), the Presidential Teaching Award for Excellence at UAB (2005 and 2013) and also UAB’s Graduate Dean’s Excellence in Mentorship Award (2014). In 2001, he received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award at North Dakota State University’s School of Engineering, and received the Outstanding Faculty Award for Research in 1996 at Tuskegee University.


A prolific writer, Vaidya has been published in over 180 peer-reviewed international journals and over 350 conference proceedings.  He has contributed four book chapters, is the author of Composites for Automotive, Truck and Mass Transit, a book published by DesTech Publishers, and he is completing a second book on Composites for High Schools, Community Colleges, Hobbyists and Freshmen Engineering Students. He also contributes extensively to organizations and events such as SPE, CAMX (the Composites & Advanced Materials Expo), SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Materials & Process Engineering), the ACMA (American Composites Manufacturers Association) and ICCM International (the International Conference on Composite Materials) as a session organizer, panel discussion coordinator, presenter, exhibitor, invited speaker, and think-tank discussion participant. Furthermore, Vaidya has organized several conferences and workshops himself dealing with composites and plastics research and education. His contributions were recognized in the August/September 2012 issue of CM (Composites Manufacturing) magazine as a B.E.S.T. (a bright, energetic, skilled trailblazer) from across the composites industry.


An entrepreneur as well, Vaidya is a principal and co-founder of Innovative Composite Solutions (ICS), an Alabama company that was established in 2009 after winning first place and $100,000 USD in the Alabama Launchpad Competition that year.  ICS has commercial ventures with high-tech, lightweight composite products for the infrastructure/buildings, power transmission, defense, biomedical devices, and commodity markets. Vaidya also has served as consultant for a number of companies producing fiber-reinforced plastic piping, power/energy, and plastic products.


He holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Karnataka University in India where he was first in his graduating class. He earned an M.S. degree in Mechanical Design Engineering at Walchand College of Engineering (also in India) and received a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University in the U.S.


About the SPE ACCE


Held annually in suburban Detroit, the ACCE draws over 1,000 speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees and provides an environment dedicated solely to discussion and networking about advances in transportation composites.  Its global appeal is evident in the diversity of exhibitors, speakers, and attendees who come to the conference from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia / Pacific as well as North America.  Fully one-third of attendees indicate they work for automotive and light truck, agriculture, truck & bus, or aviation OEMs, and another 25% represent tier suppliers.  Attendees also work for composite materials, processing equipment, additives, or reinforcement suppliers; trade associations, consultants, university and government labs; media; and investment bankers.  The show has been jointly sponsored by the SPE Automotive and Composites Divisions since 2001.


The 17th-annual SPE ACCE will be held September 6-8, 2017 at The Diamond Banquet & Conference Center at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Avenue, Novi, MI 48374.  For more information about the SPE ACCE, see, or


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® SPE is a registered trademark of the Society of Plastics Engineers. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


SPE® Announces Winners of Rehkopf, #SPEACCE Scholarships


Today organizers for the SPE® Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) announced the winners of the group’s three annual SPE ACCE scholarships sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. as well as two new Dr. Jackie Rehkopf scholarships from an endowed fund that has been set up to honor the long-time SPE ACCE committee member, SPE Automotive Division board member, and automotive composites researcher.

ACCE scholarship winners are required to present the results of their research at next year’s SPE ACCE show, September 6-8, 2017, while Rehkopf scholarship winners are required to either present the results of their research at next year’s SPE ACCE or publish them in an SPE journal. Both scholarships are administered as part of the SPE Foundation®.

The two winners of the SPE ACCE graduate scholarships ($2,000 USD each) were Mr. Lu Wang of University of Maine-Orono and Mr. Srikanth Raviprasad of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A third ACCE scholarship (also $2,000 USD) for a student attending a university or college in the U.S. state of Michigan was won by Ms. Mariana Batista of Michigan State University. The two Rehkopf scholarships ($5,000 USD each) were won by Mr. Sebastian Goris of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mr. Robert Hart of University of Iowa.


Lu-WangUMaineLRCroppedLu Wang won his SPE ACCE graduate scholarship with the topic:  Cellulose Nanofibrils Reinforced Polypropylene by 3D Printing for Lightweighting.  About his project and its potential impact on the automotive composites industry, Wang said, “CNF [cellulose nanofibrils], a type of nano-scale cellulose fibers, have extraordinary potential to be used as a reinforcement in polymers. They are estimated to be as strong as steel, but five-times lighter and with stiffness equivalent to high-performance aramid fibers. Compared to other kinds of reinforcements, CNF has lower density, higher specific strength and modulus, lower cost, worldwide availability, recyclability, and biodegradability. On a related subject, 3D printing has been found to benefit the automobile industry, especially for prototyping design and testing. However, two obstacles exist for 3D printing some semi-crystalline polymers like polypropylene (PP). First, the PP molecule crystallizes during printing, which leads to residual stresses and warpage of the printed layers. Second, the mechanical properties of printed polymers are only 60-80% of their injection-molded counterparts because the printing process generates many voids inside parts. Hence the two objectives of my research are to explore the use of CNF in 3D printed PP and to make printed PP parts equally strong as their injection molded counterparts.”

Wang holds a B.S. degree from the Department of Wood Science at Central South Forestry University (Changsha, Hunan, China). He continued to study bamboo-based engineering composites at Nanjing Forestry University (Nanjing, Jiangsu, China) and graduated in 2013 with an M.S. degree. He currently is a Ph.D. candidate in Forest Resources at University of Maine working under the supervision of Prof. Douglas Gardner. He has had seven journal articles published and has two more awaiting publication. To date, papers Wang has either authored or co-authored have been published in six journals (including two review articles) and two conference proceedings, and he also has authored a chapter in the book Progress in Adhesion and Adhesives. His work has been featured on posters and presentations given at conferences in the U.S., Canada, and China. He was the winner of a graduate student poster competition for the SPE Polymer Nanocomposites Conference in 2014. He also won the George L. Houston Scholarship (2014) and Blumenstock Family Forest Products Graduate Student of the Year Award (2015) from the School of Forest Resources at University of Maine. In addition, he co-mentored two students from the National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduate (NSF-REU) program for research on cellulose nanofiber modification and 3D printing. After graduation, Wang plans to continue working in research in the field of polymer nanocomposites at an industrial research center or a university.

Srikanth Raviprasad_croppedSrikanth Raviprasad won his SPE ACCE graduate scholarship with the topic:  Novel Structure-Material System to Resist High Velocity Impacts.  Explaining the significance of his work on the automotive composites industry, Raviprasad said, “My aim is to elevate the current technology for sandwich structures by introducing a novel cellular architecture ― triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS) ― made of polymers (primarily polyamide) as the core material in order to improve the impact response and increase the energy absorption of composite sandwich structures.  The sandwich panel’s face sheets will be designed using glass-fiber laminates of different fiber-volume fractions, with its stacking and orientation criteria inspired by examples found in nature ― like architectures of armadillo and stomatopod shells ― to effectively transfer impact load across the surface rather than through the thickness of the structure. Results from both computations and physical experiments will be compared against those obtained from traditional aluminum-core sandwich structures used today to see if we can achieve a better material response with our novel technology. If we are successful, it could effectively lead to both lighter weight and lower cost components for rough-terrain vehicles that are prone to impact loads from ground, weather, and the other conditions.”

Originally from India, Raviprasad earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manipal University (Manipal, Karnataka, India) in 2015 and graduated as his department’s Special Achiever for two consecutive years. During his tenure as an undergraduate student, he served as the subsystem head of the Structures Thermals and Mechanisms team for his university’s student satellite project where he guided the project through a successful preliminary design review phase with the Indian Space Research Organization. Raviprasad has published over 10 papers in conference proceedings and journals, was selected as a GE Foundation Scholar-Leader in 2013, and also received a Sir Ratan Tata Travel Grant in 2015. Additionally, he was awarded a Bronze Volunteer certificate for work with the Volunteer Services Organization. As an intern, Raviprasad has worked on diverse projects in the healthcare, aero-structures, composite materials, and aerodynamics industries while at General Electric Co., United Technologies Corp., National Aerospace Laboratories, and the Indian Institute of Science. He currently works as a graduate research assistant and a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under Dr. Iwona Jasiuk. He extended his professional experience by interning at Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. this summer and plans to graduate by the end of 2016 with an M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering.  He also is a certified Lean Six-Sigma Green Belt, McKinley Toastmaster, PADI-certified Open Water scuba diver, and a student member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

LR_Mariana Batista-squareMariana Desireé Reale Batista won her SPE ACCE Michigan scholarship with the topic:  Hybrid Cellulose Composites: Lightweight Materials for Automotive Applications.  Describing the research she will do on this project, Batista says, “Lower weight, high strength, and high stiffness are often identified as desirable properties for parts used in both the aerospace and automotive fields. In order to achieve these engineering goals, meet the fuel economy and emissions mandates in many parts of the world, and contribute to global sustainable development, cellulose fibers have attracted considerable attention within the transportation industry. As a class of reinforcing agents for polymer composites, they have been widely studied because of their low cost, low density, high mechanical properties, and considerable environmental benefits. My proposed research is focused on development of hybrid composites combining cellulose fiber with glass fiber, carbon fiber, and talc in matrices of polypropylene or biobased polyamide, and on evaluating the mechanical and thermal properties of the resulting composites for automotive underhood and body interior applications. In this project I am investigating synergetic effects of combining various fibers, looking for the ideal concentration of each constituent, and also qualifying the fiber-matrix interphase. It is worth mentioning that hybrid composites reinforced exclusively with cellulose fibers are less frequently developed, but they also are potentially useful materials with respect to environmental concerns for automotive applications. The hybrid cellulose composites from this research may replace or reduce the use of synthetic fibers in many automotive applications leading to weight and cost savings. Therefore this new approach to the development of eco-friendly and lightweight composite materials should be beneficial to the transportation industry.”

Originally from Brazil, Batista graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in Mechatronics Engineering in 2011 and received an M.B.A. degree in Administration and Business Management in 2014, both from Universidade Salvador (UNIFACS, Salvador, Brazil). After graduating, she worked at Ford Motor Co. in Camaçari, Brazil as a product development engineer in the powertrain department, where she was awarded a certificate of excellence in 2012 in recognition to her good performance leading manual transmission development for Ford’s South American Operations. After several years at Ford, in 2014 Batista received a full-time scholarship from the Brazilian government (CAPES) to pursue a doctorate degree in the U.S. She currently is a doctoral student in Materials Science & Engineering at MSU working under the supervision of Prof. Lawrence Drzal. There, she works in the Composite Materials and Structures Center where her research is focused on carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites, specifically modification of the fiber-polymer interphase with cellulose nanowhiskers. Batista’s work has been featured on posters at conferences in the U.S. During the summer of 2016, she interned at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., U.S.A., where she worked as a visiting scientist in the Sustainable Plastics and Biomaterials Research Group. She has been involved in many organizations as a volunteer, providing assistance in outreach activities and student competitions. After graduation, she plans to work in the automotive industry investigating the development of polymer composites. Batista says she hopes to share her experiences and inspire new students and researchers in the field of sustainable materials.

Goris_LRSebastian Goris won his Rehkopf scholarship with the topic:  Experimental Evaluation and Numerical Simulation of the Process-Induced Fiber Configuration in LFT Injection Molding.  About his work and its potential impact on the automotive composites industry, Goris says, “During moldfilling of LFT [long-fiber thermoplastic] materials, the fiber configuration significantly changes as reflected by fiber attrition, excessive fiber orientation, fiber jamming, and fiber-matrix separation. A major challenge in the field of LFT processing has been and remains the lack of availability of reliable measurement techniques to allow accurate fiber property measurements of sufficiently large samples in a timely manner. The goal of my research is to gain an in-depth understanding of the underlying physics behind fiber motion and the process-induced microstructure of the fibers. As one part of my research, I’m developing novel measurement concepts to evaluate the process-induced fiber microstructure to validate simulation results by using sophisticated techniques, including micro-computed tomography. Additionally, I am working on new simulation approaches and models to better predict changes in fiber configuration during processing ― in particular to control and predict the reduction of fiber length in LFT processing, which affects mechanical properties of the resultant part. As we develop expertise in measurement techniques and modeling approaches, we’ll be able to apply them to study the relationships between microstructural parameters and unsolved phenomena, such as fiber attrition and fiber agglomeration in injection molded parts. Eventually, the results of my work will translate into an improved understanding of the damage and motion of fibers during injection molding, which is necessary to fully exploit the lightweight advantages of LFT materials.”

Originally from Germany, Goris holds a B.S. degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany). While completing his undergraduate degree, he focused on polymer processing and worked as a research assistant at the university’s Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV). In 2012, he received a full one-year scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to attend graduate school at UW-Madison where, under the direction of Prof. Tim Osswald, he completed his M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and now is pursuing a doctorate in the same discipline plus a minor in Business Administration. Already Goris has authored or co-authored papers in six conference proceedings as well as a chapter on Composites Manufacturing Processes for the Mechanical Engineering Handbook, 2nd edition. Additionally his work has been featured on posters and presentations given at conferences in the U.S., Germany, and Israel. Besides working as a graduate research assistant, Goris also holds the position of chief engineer at the Polymer Engineering Center (PEC) at UW-Madison. In 2013, his course project placed second in the Ratner Award Competition at UW-Madison. The following year he was a recipient of an SPE ACCE graduate scholarship from the SPE Automotive and Composites Divisions as well as an Academic Achievement Award from the Division of International Studies and International Services at UW-Madison. In 2016, he also won a Dr. Jackie Rehkopf Best Paper award for excellence in technical writing on a topic he will present at the 2016 SPE ACCE. After graduating, Goris plans to work in research on composite materials and processes in the transportation industry.

LR_Robert HartRobert Hart won his Rehkopf scholarship with the topic:  Multi-Physics Effects in Carbon Fiber Polymer Matrix Composites.  Discussing why his research will be of interest to those working in the transportation composites field, Hart notes, “My project will focus on developing theoretical models for designed optimal composite structures for multifunctional applications. I’ll explore the use of new, advanced reinforcement media (e.g. carbon nanotubes, buckypaper, and graphene) that provide optimum combinations of electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties.  My areas of interest include damage modeling and the influence of damage on the multi-physics response in advanced composites. This research should eventually lead to the development of “smart structures” with capabilities like real-time damage sensing that will be of interest to manufactures of aerospace as well as ground vehicles.”

Currently a doctoral candidate at the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa, Hart also is a U.S. Department of Defense SMART Scholar and works in collaboration with the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research and Development Engineering Center (TARDEC). Before starting his Ph.D. study, Hart worked for three years as an R&D and project engineer in the plastics industry for Centro Inc. (North Liberty, Iowa, U.S.A.). In that role he led the design, budget proposal, and construction of an industry-leading laboratory for material testing of cross-linked polymers. He also served as the plastics materials expert on a team that developed a novel fire-retardant, multilayer-composite fuel tank for applications in extreme operating environments. The tank was successfully commercialized and is now the flagship product produced at a new manufacturing facility Centro operates in Brazil. Upon returning to university, Hart served as a graduate teaching assistant for a mixed graduate/undergraduate course on composite materials where he was able to draw on his industry experience to guide students as they developed their own composite design projects.  He also served as a guest lecturer when the primary instructor was traveling. He holds both B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iowa. After graduating with his doctorate in 2017, Hart will work at TARDEC full time and continue to advance composites research in the ground-vehicle sector.

Held annually in suburban Detroit, the ACCE draws over 1,000 speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees and provides an environment dedicated solely to discussion and networking about advances in transportation composites.  This year’s show will be held September 7-9, 2016 at The Diamond Banquet & Conference Center at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Avenue, Novi, MI 48374.  Learn more:, or


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® SPE is a registered trademark of the Society of Plastics Engineers. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.








SPE® Announces 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for 2016 #SPEInnovationAwards


Dr. Lawrence T. Drzal, university distinguished professor of Chemical Engineering and director-Composite Materials and Structures Center at Michigan State University’s College of Engineering (MSU, East Lansing, Mich., U.S.A.), has been named the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®). Drzal, the first academic winner of the award, is a composites expert who has specialized in surface and interfacial aspects of adhesively bonded joints plus the fiber / matrix interphase in composite materials and their processing; adhesion fundamentals; sustainable bio-based structural composite materials; and nanocomposite materials. During his career Drzal has given over 400 invited presentations at national and international conferences, published over 375 research papers, and has been awarded 35 patents. He will be honored for his role leading transportation composites innovations at the 46th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on November 9, 2016 at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich.

First given in 2000, the SPE Automotive Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the technical achievements of individuals whose work – in research, design, and/or engineering – has led to significant integration of polymeric materials on passenger vehicles.  Past winners include:

  • T. Battenberg III, then chairman and chief-executive officer of Delphi Corp.;
  • Bernard Robertson, then executive vice-president of DaimlerChrysler;
  • Robert Schaad, chairman of Husky Injection Molding Systems, Ltd.;
  • Tom Moore, retired vice-president, Liberty and Technical Affairs at then DaimlerChrysler;
  • Shigeki Suzuki, general manager – Materials Division, Toyota Motor Co.;
  • Barbara Sanders, then director-Advanced Development & Engineering Processes, Delphi Corp.;
  • Josh Madden, retired executive at General Motors Corp. (GM) & Volkswagen of America;
  • Frank Macher, former CEO of Collins & Aikman Corp., Federal Mogul Corp., and ITT Automotive;
  • Irv Poston, retired head of the Plastics (Composites) Development-Technical Center, GM.;
  • Allan Murray, Ph.D., retired technology director at Ford Motor Co.;
  • David B. Reed P.E., retired staff engineer, Product Engineering, GM;
  • Gary Lownsdale, P.E., then chief technology officer, Plasan Carbon Composites;
  • Roy Sjöberg, P.E., retired staff engineer – Body, Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Div.,GM and retired executive engineer-Viper Project, Chrysler Corp.;
  • Norm Kakarala, retired senior technical fellow, Inteva Products LLC; and
  • Fredrick Deans, P.E., chief marketing officer, Allied Composite Technologies LLC.

Continue reading ‘SPE® Announces 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for 2016 #SPEInnovationAwards’


SPE® Announces Dates, Deadlines for 46th-Annual #SPEInnovationAwards Competition & Gala


The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®) today announced the dates, location, and theme for its 46th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries, and deadlines for the event’s annual parts competition. This year’s Awards Gala will be held Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., where winning part nominations (submitted by September 15, 2016) and the teams that developed them will be honored during an evening that celebrates automotive plastics innovation.

“This is an important year for automakers selling into the U.S. as it represents the midpoint assessment period for 2025 CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards,” explains Jeffrey Helms, global automotive director, Celanese Corp. who returns as the 2016 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards chair. “Regulators are currently reviewing automaker status  with regard to increasing fuel-efficiency ratings toward the 2025 targets. That will put the spotlight on methods and materials for taking mass out of vehicles, which should be good for plastics and composites. We feel it’s no coincidence that the last few years have represented the highest attendance in the history of our Automotive Innovation Awards Gala and we expect that trend to continue in 2016. Automakers and their suppliers are very interested in any and all design, material, and process options that can help them meet regulatory targets while still offering exciting, safe, beautiful, and affordable vehicles that customers want to buy. This led to selection of Plastics: Innovation in Motion as our 2016 program theme.”

Continue reading ‘SPE® Announces Dates, Deadlines for 46th-Annual #SPEInnovationAwards Competition & Gala’


SPE® Issues Call for Parts-Competition Nominations for 2016 #SPEACCE



The organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) today issued a call for nominations for its fifth-annual parts competition at the group’s 2016 conference, September 7-9 in Novi, Mich. in the Detroit suburbs. Prizes for the Most Innovative Composites Application will be awarded in three categories ― Materials Innovation and Process Innovation (selected by media and members of the SPE ACCE planning committee), and People’s Choice (selected by conference attendees) ― with winning teams receiving recognition and a trophy after lunch on the last day of the show.

There is no cost to enter the competition. Any registered conference participant (speaker, sponsor/exhibitor, or attendee) may nominate original equipment or aftermarket composite parts on passenger cars or light trucks from any geography.  The only requirement is that parts must be on a vehicle available for commercial sale and that the vehicle producer must give permission. Nomination instructions may be found at  Preliminary descriptions and photos about the application’s innovations are due July 30, 2016 and should be eMailed to  Physical parts must be brought to the SPE ACCE for final review by judges on September 7 during a formal walk-through at the show.

Continue reading ‘SPE® Issues Call for Parts-Competition Nominations for 2016 #SPEACCE’


SPE® Issues Call for Applications (Due May 1) for 5 #SPEACCE, #Rehkopf Scholarships through #SPEFoundation


The SPE® Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (SPE ACCE) organizing committee has issued its annual call for applications for 3 SPE ACCE scholarships as well as 2 awards from a new endowed scholarship still in the process of being funded in honor of the late Dr. Jackie Rekhopf, a long-time SPE ACCE volunteer and automotive composites expert. Applications are due May 1, 2016 and winners will be announced prior to the 2016 SPE ACCE show, September 7-9, 2016 in the Detroit suburbs.

R Broome & C Boise_LREach of the three ACCE scholarships is in the amount of $2,000 USD. Two of the scholarships (given annually since 2007) are for full-time graduate students anywhere in the world who are pursuing degrees in Polymer Science, Composites, Plastics or a related Engineering discipline.

R Broome & N Kamar_LRA third ACCE scholarship is available for a graduate or junior or senior undergraduate student pursuing similar academic programs at a university or college in the U.S. state of Michigan. In addition to a letter of recommendation from an advisor or mentor (and other SPE Foundation requirements), students must provide a succinct 2-page essay explaining how their planned work will benefit polymer composites usage in the automotive or other ground-transportation industry. Winning students are required to submit a formal paper on their research by June the following year and are expected to present their results in person at next year’s SPE ACCE conference, September 6-8, 2017.

R Broome & M Kardos_LRIn just five months, the new Dr. Jackie Rehkopf scholarship is approximately half-way to its $100,000 USD goal to reach full endowment. Contributions from the SPE Automotive and Composites Divisions, which have co-organized the ACCE show since 2001 and provided seed money to start the scholarship, will allow two scholarships to be given in 2016. The scholarships are available to either full-time graduate or junior or senior undergraduate students anywhere in the world pursuing degrees in Polymer Science, Composites, Plastics or a related Engineering discipline, with preference given to female students (although the best candidates will be selected). Up to two $5,000 USD scholarships each will be awarded to qualified graduate students, or up to two $2,500 USD scholarships each will be awarded to qualified undergraduate students if no graduate applications are received, or a combination of one $5,000 graduate award and one $2,500 undergraduate award for the 2016-2017 academic year will be provided. As with the ACCE scholarships, a letter of recommendation from the student’s advisor/mentor (in addition to other SPE Foundation requirements) and a 2-page essay is required showing planned work and how it benefits composites usage in the automotive or other ground-transportation industry. Work supported by the scholarship must be formally presented at an SPE technical conference like the ACCE or published in an SPE technical journal.

Applications for ACCE, Rehkopf, and many other SPE scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year may be found on the SPE Foundation® website at

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