DEARBORN - Robert Brown, vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company, was inducted into the Wayne State University college of engineering Hall of Fame Oct. 26 during the university’s 80th anniversary Night of the Stars event.
On receiving the award, Brown said it has been a very humbling experience and he credits his parents, teachers, his wife and many mentors who have guided and encouraged him along the way.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Brown went on to obtain a master’s of science degree in engineering from Wayne State University. Brown’s career with Ford began in 1979 when he hired in as a compliance engineer. Since then Brown has held a variety of leadership positions within Ford including serving as Ford’s environmental regulatory manager working in Washington D.C., assistant director in the company’s Automotive Safety Office and director of Vehicle Environmental Engineering.
When asked what he thought his greatest achievements have been, Brown said, “I don’t believe that you achieve anything by yourself. By working with great Ford teams, industry alliances, cross-industry coalitions, together we’ve had a positive effect on everyday life. Today cars are cleaner and they’re safer than they were 30 years ago and that’s what I am most proud of, that together we made the world a better place.”
Over the years there have been several people who inspired Brown. From his father who taught him that if he tried, more often than not he would be successful, to his teachers, his wife and mentors from within the Ford community, he credits a number of people who contributed to his current success.
“If I had to pick out one (person) that had the greatest influence on me it would be Bob Bisaro,” Brown said. Bisaro was manager of the Correlation Engineering Department when Brown came on board. “I was a very young engineer, but Bob helped me understand patience, how to approach a problem from different perspectives and how to engage others in a way that would not be offensive but at the same time would be what I would call intellectually aggressive. He is someone I think about quite often, especially when I’m faced with challenging decisions. I’m so thankful that he saw fit to embrace me and take me under his wing.”
As for the advice he would provide to the next generation of potential engineers, Brown said, “I would tell them not to limit success to what they can achieve alone. Help others and ask for help when needed because that is just so important. They will need the skills to communicate with others and understand their perspectives to look into solutions that maybe they didn’t think of on their own.”
“It really comes down to the people, which is something we say a lot here at Ford,” Brown said. “As I look back at the people who inspired me, I don’t know that I would have found such inspiration at any other company. Early in my career, I was fortunate to have a number of people reach out to me. They didn’t have to do that, but they did, so to me Ford is special.”