Faces of Ford
Piero Aversa – The Driver Behind Fiesta Powershift Transmission
Piero Aversa has shifted through numerous responsibilities in the powertrain development process from manufacturing through advanced design. But since college, Ford is the only place he has ever worked.
Aversa has been with Ford since 1985, starting as a co-op student tooling engineer in the Essex Engine Plant in Ontario, Canada. After four working terms in the Essex plant, Aversa hired on full-time upon graduating from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.
“I believe that I was destined to work in the auto industry, specifically for Ford,” said Aversa, the engineering manager for Fiesta’s innovative PowerShift transmission. “My father started with Ford at the Windsor Foundry in 1965, the year I was born. When I decided to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, my sights were always on Ford.”
Aversa went on to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.
“My career has covered the full spectrum of powertrain responsibilities,” said Aversa. “I’ve experienced the daily adrenaline rush of production and ‘sweated every detail’ in the strategic aspects of engine and transmission planning.”
As a co-op student, Aversa’s first assignment required a great deal of time making blueprint copies. He advanced to manufacturing process engineering, and ultimately became a production supervisor for 3.8-liter V-6 engines at the Essex plant.
At this point, Aversa’s engineering career took a turn toward engine design. As an intake manifold design engineer, Aversa worked on the 3.8- and 4.2-liter V-6 engine, notable for its “split-port” intake configuration. He was later assigned to 4.6- and 5.4-liter V-8 3-valve advanced engine design before being named powertrain planning analyst for Ford F-150, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicle lines. He then served as engineering supervisor on the 5-speed 5R110 transmission which helped power F-Series pickups and E-Series vans.
In addition, Aversa worked as the engineering manager of advanced engine design and in an operational position as total cost and value engineering manager for Powertrain Operations.
Aversa led the automatic transmission programs for the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ before leading development on Fiesta’s new transmission. “Our team takes great pride in these transmissions,” said Aversa. “We introduced two new gearboxes with that platform program. Both were flawless launches, recognized for best-in-class quality.”
Aversa is proud of his team’s current work on Fiesta’s PowerShift.
“The goal for PowerShift was delivering a fuel-efficient, smooth-shifting transmission that makes Fiesta fun to drive,” he said.
The Fiesta’s PowerShift transmission is unique from several perspectives.
This innovative transmission employs dual, electronically-controlled mechanical clutches, one for odd gears (one, three and five) and one for even gears (reverse, two, four and six). In normal driving it exhibits the behavior of a traditional automatic gearbox.
“With six forward gears, it can quickly adapt to changing situations,” said Aversa. “An enthusiastic driver will find the shift quality to be responsive and accurate. Customers interested in maximizing fuel economy will also appreciate this new transmission due to the high mechanical efficiency of the gearbox.”
Fiesta with PowerShift is projected to deliver up to 40 mpg highway pending EPA certification.
“Traditionally, B-segment fuel economy leaders have been manual shift models,” Aversa said. “PowerShift is a key component in Fiesta’s fuel efficiency.”
Aversa is married and the father of four active children.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Aversa is a second-generation Ford employee
• He began at Ford as a co-op intern during college
• Aversa’s career has encompassed a wide variety of powertrain development positions
• Aversa is married and the father of four active children
Sam De La Garza – An Advocate of Social Media to Tell Fiesta Story
Want to catch up with Sam De La Garza? Follow his tweets at http://twitter.com/samdelag.
De La Garza joined Twitter earlier this year to keep up with the Fiesta Movement agents. The program which put European-spec Fiestas in the hands of 100 of the most socially vibrant people online includes extensive use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate.
“I try to tweet with every agent and give the inside perspective on how Ford is bringing the Fiesta to the United States,” said De La Garza. “It’s been a great way for me to keep in touch with agents and encourage them to visit Dearborn. For a period this summer, I had an agent dropping by every single week to check out where it all started.”
The Ray Romano look-alike also uses Twitter for another reason – to tweet each time he gets mistaken for the famous actor and alert his followers there’s been a Ray Romano sighting.
Along with getting involved, De La Garza wanted to make sure the Fiesta launch team had a way of celebrating every success, so he started using a high-five as the rallying cry for Fiesta. In 2008, he even started a weekly meeting, “Bagels and B-Cars,” to keep the team up to date on the latest news about the segment.
“We conclude all meetings about Fiesta with a high-five, no joke,” De La Garza said. “We’re trying to be innovative in everything we do. When Mark Fields agreed to give me a high-five on his weekly employee Webcast, the team was very proud. These types of things have helped keep the momentum going.”
Almost three years ago, De La Garza was appointed product marketing manager for the all-new Ford Fiesta. He has been involved in every research event since 2006. From that time he hasn’t been able to get enough of the car – or of people’s reactions to it.
“I love to see how people first react to the car, to get their first impressions,” he said. “They’re always blown away by how awesome it looks. When they get inside they are just as excited by the overall design of the interior. I always try to get a picture of them with the car to use on Twitter.”
The Strategy Delivers
To date, Fiesta Movement agents have driven more than 1.2 million miles, performing athletic, cultural and philanthropic missions while blogging and posting video clips about their experiences. They have collectively generated more than 5.5 million YouTube views and more than 675,000 Flickr views. Fiesta buzz is building on a foundation of social media word-of-mouth interactions.
“Fiesta is still several months away from market introduction and customer availability, but awareness levels rival brands that are already out there,” said De La Garza. “While Fiesta has long enjoyed a global reputation, the nameplate has not been available in North America since 1980.”
De La Garza was born in Raleigh, N.C., and grew up in West Bloomfield, Mich. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, then went on to earn an MBA – with a marketing concentration – from Washington University in St. Louis.
A former officer in the U.S. Army, De La Garza was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas with the 1st Calvary Division for four years. Prior to joining Ford in 2005, he served for three years in sales positions with an automotive finance company.
De La Garza began with Ford as a product marketing manager with the Export and Growth team, managing Ford Escape and Mustang initiatives for Middle Eastern markets. He quickly transitioned to the Fiesta assignment.
“For me, Ford’s culture has been all about empowerment,” observed De La Garza. “When mid-level managers are charged with making strategic decisions it fosters an organization that reacts more quickly to competitive and market pressures. This positive culture has enabled us to deliver the Fiesta – a small car without compromise.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Sam has tweeted more than 2,500 times and has nearly 1,500 followers on Twitter
• Sam was born in Raleigh, N.C., and raised in West Bloomfield, Mich.
• He served in the U.S. Army 1st Calvary Division as a field artillery officer
Kevin George - Fiesta Designer's Toys Have Gotten Much Larger
Kevin George went from designing remote-control toys, theme park rides and NASCAR die-cast collectibles to iconic Ford cars including Mustang, Thunderbird, Focus, and now, Fiesta.
But that’s not to say his career in toys didn’t prepare him for designing cars. It’s just the opposite, in fact.
“A lot of what I do at Ford utilizes the same skills I used before – transforming two-dimensional sketches into three-dimensional models, creating core concepts and staying true to those, as well as getting in the mind of the customer,” explained George. “Regardless of the scale, it’s all about bringing a fantasy to life.
“For me, Fiesta was about crafting everything I did in the kinetic style – or with movement in mind – and that’s easier when you’re used to adopting other mind-sets, like I did with toys.”
Growing up in Kettering, Ohio, George believes that the automotive sector represented his design career destiny.
“My father worked in the auto industry for 34 years,” said George. “We had prototype vehicles in the driveway all the time.”
It became an obsession to learn the minute differences between vehicles from successive model years. Building a mental database of year-to-year model changes helped the aspiring designer begin to “connect the dots” of brand DNA.
Industry and Creative Legacies Intersect
“While my father’s career was a profound influence on me, my mother played a key role in my design future,” George said. “She has always been intuitively creative and has the ability to visualize how things should look, as opposed to how they are. This is a critical skill for a designer, and I credit my mother with passing this ability on to me.”
George joined Ford in 2001 with the initial assignment of designing the interior for the 2005 Mustang. The University of Cincinnati graduate now serves as Design Manager, North American Fiesta.
Managing the interior and exterior design for the North American Fiesta, in both four-door and five-door variations, has been a rewarding experience.
“I’m very proud of this product,” said George. “The most challenging part of creating a global design is the difference between North American and European crash safety standards. These ‘under the skin’ variations mandated by legislation can have a significant impact on the look of the car.”
Working within the global structure, George and the North American design team accomplished this while still honoring the Fiesta’s kinetic surface language. Kinetic design is a strong aspect of Fiesta demonstrating the designer’s vision of the energy from an object in motion.
One aspect of Fiesta that George loves is that when he gets in the car, he doesn’t feel like he’s in a small car. That means a lot considering his height – George is 6-foot-2.
“The roof profile gives me plenty of headroom and the seat travels far enough that you can fit your legs in. If you can tune it to me, anybody can fit in it.”
George is the married father of two young daughters and an enthusiast of all things automotive. He’s currently in the market for an early Ford Bronco in stock original condition – unencumbered by previous owner-inflicted modifications.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Toys have played a big part in Kevin’s career
• Kevin is a car guy, through and through
• He has the auto industry in his blood
Steve Pintar – Chief Engineer Proud of Fiesta Fuel Economy, Dynamics
Steve Pintar has learned to get by on less sleep. The 21-year Ford veteran product developer, now chief program engineer for the 2011 Ford Fiesta, has found that launching a global vehicle program means long hours – early mornings and late nights – with extensive travel.
“I’ve really been fortunate to be supported by a phenomenal team around the world,” said Pintar. “I’ve come to rely on their collective leadership when I cannot be present.”
Fiesta is a new platform for North America built in new plant facility while relying on a geographically diverse supply base. With variations already on sale in Europe and Asia, coordination and alignment among global teams has been critical.
“Fiesta really puts Ford’s global product expertise on display,” said Pintar. “The entire global Fiesta team takes pride in bringing a desirable and stylish new small car to the North American market. Fiesta will raise customer expectations for the small car segment with a high level of feature content and best-in-class fuel economy of up to 40 mpg highway – all wrapped in an incredibly fun-to-drive package.”
Pintar grew up in Milwaukee, earning his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. After graduation Pintar hired directly into Ford and continued his education, earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He earned an additional master’s from Wayne State University – this time in engineering management.
From Advanced Engineering, Pintar transitioned to Special Vehicle Engineering, with development responsibilities for high-performance Ford variants including Focus and Mustang. This led to chassis engineering and vehicle dynamics for large car programs. He spent time on other Ford car and crossover programs and most recently served as the chief program engineer for the 2008 Ford Focus.
Throughout the duration of his Ford product development career, Pintar observed a significant and positive cultural shift. “In the last few years, we’ve aligned all of our regions to work together toward common goals,” he said. “From top to bottom, we’re now One Ford, united to deliver the best products on a global basis.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Steve’s current project vehicle is a 1967 Mustang
• Steve has two master’s degrees
• This busy chief engineer is married and has four kids