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Alumnus Tony Cooprider Helping Power Ford’s Electronics Innovations
May 6, 2016
Demand Driven: Voice command, stay-in-lane driving technology, collision warning, and parallel parking assistance are just some of the smart features becoming standard in modern cars. “People want these things. They demand them,” says alumnus Tony Cooprider, a senior engineer with Ford Motor Company.
As cars become more electronically sophisticated–some even driving by themselves–auto companies are working to stay on the cutting edge.
Tony Cooprider is part of the electrical engineering revolution taking place at Ford Motor Company, where he’s focused on technology strategy, technical implementation, and technical workforce development as the most senior technical specialist within the company’s global electrical organization.
“The industry is really transforming,” the 1986 electrical engineering alumnus says from his office at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. In addition to being energy efficient, technologically advanced, and safe, “we need to make cars that are also fun to drive. The experience we create for our customers has to exceed their expectations.”
Sophisticated electronic systems account for a healthy share of the average new car’s manufacturing cost. Many cars today include a wide variety of high-tech features, including voice-activated Global Positioning Systems, traffic sign recognition, parallel parking assistance, and internet connections.
“Vehicle electronics and software technologies have just exploded,” Cooprider says. “The changes have been dramatic up to this point. But, the future will have all sorts of things we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Over the next 10 years, Cooprider believes automotive innovation will center on cars becoming even more autonomous. A fully-autonomous Ford Fusion recently successfully navigated an Arizona test track without driver assistance—in complete darkness. Meanwhile, in December, Ford announced it will invest $4.5 billion through 2020 in electric vehicle development.
Cooprider is clearly proud of Ford’s legacy as he works to help the company adapt to a rapidly changing market. He also is proud that Ford has a heritage of making the latest technology affordable for the average motorist.
“We want to make sure this new technology is not limited to high-end cars,” Cooprider says. "That’s something that goes back to the company’s founding, to Henry Ford and his Model T. It’s part of our DNA.”
As a Rose-Hulman student from west-central Indiana, Cooprider first went to Ford as a summer intern in 1985, before returning for a full-time job after graduation. Later, while continuing his career, he earned a Master’s, a Doctorate, and an MBA.
Ford is an executive partner with Rose-Hulman and has a long history of employing its graduates. Cooprider is the institute’s executive sponsor at Ford and is a technical advisor to Rose-Hulman’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.