Rich Kreder, vehicle engineering manager, 2011 Ford Edge
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No question, a fighter jet is much faster than even the fastest production car – by 1,500 mph or so. But when it comes to the pace of the car business, automobile companies can seem to be on full afterburners by comparison.
That desire for a faster pace is partly what prompted Rich Kreder, vehicle engineering manager for the 2011 Ford Edge midsize crossover, to leave the defense industry for the auto industry. Kreder, who has two electrical engineering degrees, had previously worked on weapons systems for the Air Force’s F-15E strike fighter while at McDonnell Douglas.
“It was my first job out of school and it was right before the Gulf War,” said Kreder. “I was responsible for test equipment used to certify the proper interface between the weapon and the airplane – basically, I had to ensure the weapon would release properly when directed by the pilot.”
Kreder, who was working toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering, enjoyed his job, but he was intrigued when Ford searched for additional electrical systems engineering talent while recruiting in St. Louis. Kreder joined the company in 1993, and says going from working on the electrical systems of fighter jets to working on the electrical systems of cars wasn’t a huge jump.
“They’re actually very similar from a technology or functions standpoint,” Kreder said. “The big change for me was how much product was produced. With the fighters, you might complete a few a month. At Ford, we’re producing a vehicle every minute at most of our plants.”
From electrical systems to vehicle engineering
After seven years on Ford’s Electrical and Electronics Systems Engineering team, Kreder was looking for a new challenge. While attending school at night, he completed an MBA from the University of Michigan and was searching for new opportunities. Instead of working on one system or component, Kreder wanted to be more involved with the total vehicle, with a greater focus on the customer perspective.
“I wanted the broader perspective of the entire vehicle versus designing all the wires or all the switches,” said Kreder. “So I went into vehicle engineering. I like it because it’s customer focused and covers the total vehicle. We have the opportunity to make the product better for the customer, and vehicle engineering encompasses the overall vehicle experience of the customer.”
The vehicle engineering manager works with several teams to make sure all the functional attributes – steering, handling, braking, wind noise, road noise, performance and many more – are properly balanced in order to exceed customer expectations, which has been an ongoing theme with the Edge.
“We’ve taken several actions to make the driving experience even more enjoyable for the customer,” said Kreder. “I think the overall interior quietness really stands out as a surprise and delight.”
Away from work, Kreder enjoys tackling projects around the house. “I’ve definitely paid for a few aisles at the various home improvement stores,” he said.
Family likes to travel
Maybe inspiration will strike during one of the family road trips. Kreder and his wife of 17 years, Laura, and children Kayla and Josh like to head out to spots around Michigan as well as places in Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. The family also likes to venture to Disney World in the winter to escape the Michigan cold.
“Michigan has a great summer, but too short a spring, too short a fall, and the winter is way too long,” said Kreder.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Aug. 16, 2010