Distinguished Alumni Awards
Kenneth K. Kohrs
Vice President, Rear Wheel Drive Car Vehicle Center, Ford Automotive Operations, Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan
BS, Mechanical Engineering, 1962
Kenneth Kohrs is one of Ford Motor Company’s top engineers. As vice president, RWD Car Vehicle Center, his is one of five worldwide positions responsible for expanding Ford Motor Company’s global product and market success. Ford is one of the largest corporations in the world, with more than 350,000 employees in 200 countries and earnings in the billions of dollars.
He joined Ford in 1962 as an engineering trainee in the Product Engineering Office. He spent 15 years in truck engineering, where he served in various management positions in chassis and vehicle design before becoming chief engineer in charge of light trucks in 1975. In 1977, he was named executive director, Engineering and Research Staff, working to develop worldwide engineering disciplines, and later became executive director of Mid-Size and Luxury Car Programs-Car Product Development.
He moved to Ford of Europe in 1982 to head Car Engineering and Planning, was named vice president of product development that same year, and was elected vice president of Ford Motor Company in 1986. He returned to North American Automotive Operations in 1989 as vice president, Car Programs Management and Powertrain Planning and Engineering. In 1991, he assumed responsibility for North American Automotive Operations car product development, overseeing the process of taking a car from concept to a production design. His leadership has led to a dramatic reduction in product development time to market and major improvements in engineering productivity. In May 1994, he was named to his present position and played a key role in redesigning the new Ford 2000 organization and processes that will enable Ford to effectively compete on a global basis into the next decade.
At UIUC, Kenneth Kohrs has served on the college of Engineering Advisory Board and the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Alumni Board. In 1982, as president of the M&EI Alumni Board, he led an effective drive n which alumni contacted the Illinois General Assembly to push for stronger funding for the University of Illinois. Much of the college’s strong relationship with Ford Motor Company can be traced to Ken Kohrs. Ford funds faculty research, employs many engineering graduates, and supports student projects. Continuing his active support of engineering education, he also serves on the University Of Michigan College Of Engineering National Advisory Council and is presently chair of the Advisory Board of their Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.
Current as of 1995.