SOUTHFIELD – Two female executives with degrees in electrical engineering, both from Northville, received Lawrence Technological University’s Alumni Achievement Award at commencement exercises.
Judith Curran, the vehicle line director of Global CD Vehicles at Ford Motor Company, earned her electrical engineering bachelor’s degree in 1983, and Elizabeth Howell, vice president, operations, of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electric transmission company, earned her degree in 1993.
Curran oversees the worldwide development and launch of vehicles, including the Fusion, Edge, SMax, Galaxy, and Mondeo, which are manufactured at assembly plants in Michigan, Mexico, Spain, Russia, Canada and China.
Curran’s first job after graduation was with the Hamilton Standard division of United Technologies where she worked on the design of fully electronic turbine engine controls used in cruise missiles, helicopters and jets. When she started at Ford in 1986, she worked on the first electronic controls for fuel injection in engines, and on the first electronic control to manage the shift strategy of automatic transmissions. She worked in software and control systems for 12 years, was awarded eight U.S. patents, and received her Master of Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1988.
During 28 years at Ford, Curran has held positions of increasing responsibility, including director of vehicle evaluation and verification, responsible for overseeing vehicle testing facilities throughout North America, including the dynamometer labs, test tracks, safety facilities, and vehicle/component test rigs. Curran also spent three years as the vice president of engineering at Ford subsidiary Automotive Components Holding LLC, responsible for component design and release of instrument panels, door trims, lamps, HVAC units, driveshafts/halfshafts, and fuel tanks.
Automotive News named Curran one of the 100 Leading Women in the Automotive Industry in 2010.
Howell is responsible for the operation of the high-voltage electric transmission system of ITC’s operating subsidiaries, including more than 15,000 miles of interstate transmission lines in seven states, including Michigan.
In addition, she serves as reliability compliance officer, overseeing ITC’s compliance with mandatory reliability standards under the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
She previously was the director of operations and manager of the Michigan Electric Coordinated Systems Control Area. She joined ITC during its initial startup in 2003 and led the successful operational integration of two major acquisitions. She has over 20 years’ experience in the utility industry, beginning her career as an engineer at DTE Energy and serving in various capacities in the generation, distribution, transmission, and operational policy and implementation areas.
Howell also holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and is a NERC certified system operator. She is a board member of ReliabilityFirst Corporation.
Both women have been active supporters of their alma mater, Lawrence Tech.
Curran has championed outreach to LTU’s 1,200 alumni at Ford and has helped increase the company’s recruiting on campus. As a member of LTU’s College of Engineering Advisory Board, she championed Ford’s support of LTU’s new embedded software engineering degree and also helped secure the University’s first ever Red Poling Challenge research project in the field.
Howell serves on both the College of Engineering Advisory Board and LTU’s Capital Campaign Steering Committee. She championed a recent gift of $250,000 for the ITC Endowed Scholarship fund for electrical and power engineering at Lawrence Tech and has created the Elizabeth A. Howell Endowed Scholarship Fund in Electrical Engineering.
Also receiving an LTU Alumni Achievement Award this year will be Gordon Riske, an electrical engineering student at LTU from 1976-81, who is now chief executive officer of KION Group AG in Germany, which is the world’s second largest manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse technology.
The commencement address will be delivered by A. Leon Linton, who will receive an honorary doctor of engineering to go with the bachelor’s degree he earned in mechanical engineering in 1962. He founded Southern Systems, Inc. (SSI) in 1968 to design, manufacture, and install conveyor systems, automation equipment, and electrical controls on a turnkey basis. The company serves manufacturers of heavy trucks, construction equipment, military tanks, oil field pipe, aircraft, furniture and appliances.