Automotive Leaders and Innovators Recognized for Steel Advocacy at the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)

January 16, 2019

DETROIT, Jan. 16, 2019 – The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), presented three awards to outstanding automotive industry leaders who advocate for the use of steel in automotive applications. The award winners were recognized at SMDI’s annual Men and Women of Steel Awards luncheon today during the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The awards include a $2,500 donation in honor of each recipient to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Foundation to help students, educators and corporations excel in STEM fields by providing educational programs and scholarships.

SMDI’s Industry Innovator Award acknowledges an automotive designer or engineer who identifies industry challenges and implements new grades of steel as the solution. The 2019 Industry Innovator Award was presented to Joe Riggsby, principal engineer, upperbody design group, Honda R&D Americas, Inc. for employing more than 50 percent ultra high-strength steel (UHSS) in the 2019 Acura RDX. The RDX also touts the world’s first UHSS inner and outer door ring system.

The SMDI Community Hero Award recognizes individuals and organizations whose work using steel impacts the quality of life of the community. This year’s Community Hero Award recipient is Carla Bailo, president and CEO, Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Under Bailo’s leadership, CAR’s objective materials research has been indispensable in driving industry innovation. Bailo has spent 35 years making an impact in the automotive industry and continues to be a prominent resource. Her extensive and well-rounded experiences leave an abiding impression on the auto industry.

The inaugural SMDI Manufacturing Leader Award is presented to an individual who implements steel for intended automotive applications and collaborates to overcome manufacturing challenges. The 2019 Manufacturing Leader Award recognized Doneen McDowell for her exemplary leadership as manufacturing executive director of General Motors North America. McDowell has served in leadership positions in nine different GM plants covering stamping, assembly and powertrain. In 2015, she was recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry. With more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry she encourages diversity in the workplace and serves as a mentor and role model to many in manufacturing.

“Joe, Carla and Doneen have each made significant contributions to the automotive industry by serving as champions of high-strength steel through their innovation, leadership and customer-centric focus,” said Dr. Jody N. Hall, vice president, automotive market, SMDI. “The value of automotive steel is substantiated by industry drivers like our Men and Women of Steel Award winners. Thanks to them, automakers and consumers alike will continue to benefit from steel’s unmatched strength, durability and sustainability. “

Previous Men and Women of Steel Award winners include:

  • 2018 Industry Innovator: Jack Dolan, architecture line executive for large vehicles, FCA US LLC.
  • 2018 Community Hero: Dr. Donald Malen, adjunct faculty member, University of Michigan.
  • 2017 Industry Innovator: Gregory Warden, executive director and global functional leader, body, exterior & dimensional engineering, General Motors.
  • 2017 Community Hero: Steve Marks, industry technical support manager, Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).
  • 2016 Industry Innovator: Mike Sweers, executive chief engineer, truck programs, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development.
  • 2016 Community Hero: S. Department of Energy Office of Vehicle Technologies for its support of research, development and deployment of efficient and sustainable highway transportation technologies to improve fuel economy and minimize petroleum use.
  • 2015 Industry Innovator: Elizabeth Krear, chief engineer (Ram 1500), FCA US LLC.
  • 2015 Community Hero: Ron Moore, fire chief, McKinney, Texas Fire Department (retired), for his efforts in educating first responders and other emergency workers on cutting tools or alternate solutions for passenger compartment access.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 21 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 120 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.