WSU College of Engineering alumna honored by Steel Market Development Institute during North American International Auto Show

College receives gift in Krear's name to support women in engineering.

Pictured: Tom Gibson, president and CEO AISI, Larry Kavanagh, president, SMDI, Elizabeth Krear, chief vehicle engineer, Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Dean Farshad Fotouhi, Wayne State University College of Engineering, Mike Williams, senior Vice President, business intelligence U.S. Steel corporation, Jody Hall, Vice President, automotive market, SMDI

DETROIT - As chief engineer of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Wayne State alumna Elizabeth K. Krear, BSME '88, MSME '90, has shown that truck consumers can expect both performance and fuel economy.

For the Ram 1500's achievements, Krear was honored with the 2015 Industry Innovator Award from the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Detroit's Cobo Center.

A premier sponsor of NAIAS, SMDI, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), announced the award during a press briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 13. Krear is the first-ever recipient of this award, a part of SMDI's "Men and Women of Steel" series, which recognizes individuals for their innovative uses and applications of steel at work and in the community.

The Industry Innovator Award is given to an automotive designer or engineer that showcases superior capability/innovation in the application of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS). Krear explains, "Trucks are large machines, and delivering a 28 mpg Ram 1500 required innovations such as our EcoDiesel engine, an eight-speed transmission, active aerodynamics and lightweight materials, including high-strength steel."

Jody Hall, vice president of the automotive market for SMDI, states, "We were fortunate to have met Elizabeth during the 2014 Texas Truck Rodeo and learn about the Ram 1500's great strides in going green without sacrificing performance." Hall adds that Krear's team is illustrating how the use of steel can aid automakers in getting to the goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

As part of the award, SMDI will donate $5,000 in Krear's name to the WSU College of Engineering to support women pursuing engineering degrees. Krear wants to encourage more women to study engineering and explore the myriad paths that it can lead to, from research to design to management and more. She urges current students to take advantage of as many co-op, internship and research opportunities as possible to develop their interests and strengths. To engineering students who are considering careers in the auto industry, she counsels, "If you are interested in a particular vehicle or technical area, learn all that you can about it through technical journals, competitive benchmarking and hands-on experience; initiate practical learning now to complement your education."

The Ram 1500 was named MotorTrend's Truck of the Year for 2013 and 2014, and is currently the top-ranked truck by Consumer Reports' Road Test Score. As chief engineer, Krear oversees all budgets, planning, engineering, development, quality and launch management of the popular truck. Prior to this position, she was the Ram vehicle line quality executive, the highest-level quality advocate for Ram products. Krear is passionate about cars and trucks and has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry. She started her career as an intern at Eaton Corporation and General Motors Company while a student at Wayne State. Upon graduation, she joined FCA US LLC (formerly Chrysler Group LLC) as part of the Chrysler Institute of Engineering (CIE) Program.

In 2014, Krear received an Industry Achievement Award from the College of Engineering.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit

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