Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014

John Z. DeLorean, BSIE’48

Alumni Achievement Award, 1962

John DeLorean

The son of immigrant parents, whose father was a Ford factory worker, John Z. DeLorean grew up in Detroit during the Depression. Early in his career, he worked at Chrysler and the Packard Motor Car Company, rising to director of research and development, before moving to General Motors. He made his mark in the early 1960s by developing the Pontiac GTO, ushering in the “muscle car” era. He advanced to group executive vice president in charge of North American Operations at General Motors in 1972 after leading both GM’s Pontiac and Chevrolet Divisions to record financial results.

In 1973, he left GM to found the DeLorean Motor Car Company. In 1981 he debuted the DMC-12, a sleek, low-profile, stainless steel-bodied sports car with gull-wing doors. The design captured the public’s imagination and nearly 9,000 were built. His namesake car received added fame as a time machine in the iconic “Back to the Future” movie trilogy.

An admitted maverick and controversial during his lifetime, DeLorean was a visionary who expressed concerns about the environment, the need to advance quality, provide customer value, and create aesthetically beautiful automobiles – attributes that drive many of the achievements of today’s most successful automotive companies. He was a prolific businessman and engineer with some 200 patents, influencing the innovations in virtually every car on the road today.

DeLorean also earned a master’s degree in engineering from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

James P. Ryan, BSAr’66

Alumni Achievement Award, 1997

James Ryan

The founder, president, and chief executive officer of JPRA Architects, James P. Ryan established his firm as a leader in retail design and in the evolution of “social hubs” for shopping, dining, and entertainment. JPRA’s signature projects, such as the Somerset Collection in Troy, Michigan; the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Florida; and The Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, have become tourist destinations that enhance their communities and generate growth. Offering a full range of services, including planning, architecture, interior design, and environmental graphics, JPRA Architects is registered in 21 states and also works in Canada, South America, England, and the United Arab Emirates.

Ryan’s and the firm’s projects have won many national and international awards, most notably from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), International Council of Shopping Centers, and Urban Land Institute. In 2012, Ryan received the AIA’s Hastings Award in recognition of his distinguished service to the architectural profession.

Ryan retired from JPRA Architects in 2008 after more than 30 years and remains active in the profession. During his career, he lectured at schools, universities, and conferences and wrote articles on the architect’s role in retail design. He is the architectural advisor to the board of directors of the Detroit Youth Boxing Gym. He also contributes to LTU, serving on the Alumni Association Board, Campaign Steering Committee, and the restoration committee of the University’s Frank Lloyd Wright house. He created a freshman scholarship and is the 2003 recipient of Lawrence Tech’s Ray Moy Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award.

Ian W. Schonsheck, ABCT’75, BSCE'79, PE

Ian Schonsheck

Ian W. Schonsheck formed the firm Schonsheck, Inc., in 1985. A design, construction, and land development company that specializes in industrial and commercial buildings, expansions, and renovations, Schonsheck, Inc., quickly grew under Schonsheck’s leadership. In the firm’s first year, Schonsheck, Inc., earned $1 million in sales, and in its second year, $2 million. Schonsheck eventually grew the company from just two employees – he and his wife, Lori – to 50 employees with more than $50 million in sales. At one point, he managed a real estate portfolio of 3,000,000 square feet. Schonsheck expanded the business by focusing on offering exceptional quality, value, and service.

In 1999 Schonsheck transferred ownership of the company to his employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan  and  became chief executive officer. He helped to diversify the firm by developing partnerships in the areas of healthcare, retail, office building, education, municipalities, selfstorage, warehousing, and research and development, which continue to support the company.

Schonsheck was named one of the 40 Under 40 by Crain’s Detroit Business in 1992, and was honored as a Crain ’s Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 1994 for his innovative approach to establishing his company and keeping repeat customers.

A member of the Lawrence Tech Civil Engineering Advisory Board, Schonsheck is a trustee of Cleary University and also served as a regent for Concordia University in Ann Arbor. He is a licensed pilot.

Ronald P. Knockeart, BSEE’63, PE

Alumni Achievement Award, 1999

Ronald Knockeart

In a career spanning over 50 years, Ronald P. Knockeart has engineered an astounding number of firsts. He invented the first laser-scanning bar-code reader in 1972 and revolutionized industry and commerce. Bar codes now track everything from product pricing and inventories to consumer habits. He directed the development of the first wireless radio-frequency-based vehicle door-locking system in 1983. First used on the 1985 Buick Regal, this invention is now found on the key chains of most drivers.

Knockeart also invented and developed the first automated airline baggage handling system employing laser scanners, first adopted by Eastern Airlines in 1973. He co-invented the first GPS-based wireless navigation and telematics system, in 1997–99, part of the national effort to develop smart cars and highways.

Another innovation was helping to develop the first cannon stabilization system that allows combat tanks to accurately hit targets while moving, now fully deployed in the U.S. Army. Knockeart also led the computermapping project that identified 3D lunar landing sites for the Apollo moon missions.

Knockeart worked as an engineer in increasingly responsible positions at Cadillac Gage, Bendix Research Laboratories, Ford Motor Company, Gulf + Western Corporation, and Siemens Automotive Corp., where he also served as a board member. He co-founded the firm 3PEC, LLC.

He holds 17 patents and is the 1999 recipient of the SAE Most Innovative Product of the Year Award. He received an MSEE from Wayne State University and was inducted into WSU’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Aaron P. Rubel, BSET’03

Aaron Rubel

Aaron P. Rubel is the engineering lead of Cabin & Cargo Standard Parts across all Airbus global passenger aircraft and of Flammability Certification within the Airbus Americas Engineering Cabin perimeter. He also serves as the intellectual property liaison between the Mobile, Alabama, location of Airbus Americas Engineering and the global corporate Intellectual Property Office. He is a certified and practicing Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Rubel completed his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology at Lawrence Tech while working full time in the automotive industry. He has earned two patents and is a two-time recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Truck Cost Savings Award. He was the lead engineer of the 2007 Chrysler Sebring Rear Seat program. Rubel feels that his LTU background laid a strong foundation for a successful transition into the aerospace industry, where he has received awards for driving process improvements, innovating methods, and mentoring other engineers.

He also has made significant contributions to the community. Rubel is a former state membership committee chair in the Michigan Trout Unlimited conservation organization and has authored articles on watershed conservation and fly fishing. He serves on the board of directors of the Bayshore Christian School in Fairhope, Alabama, is chair of the strategic planning committee, and a voting member of the school board. He also contributed to the development of a Mobile, Alabama, Area Education Foundation strategic plan for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that was published in 2015.

George J. Fadool, BSCE’81, PE

George Fadool

George J. Fadool has served as the chief ethics and compliance officer for Skanska USA Inc. since 2009. He previously spent 25 years in operations in increasingly responsible roles, attaining the position of co-chief operating officer for Skanska USA Building Inc. with responsibility for the Midwest and Texas regions. He joined Skanska in 1983, initially working for a construction company with offices in Michigan and Colorado that was acquired by Skanska in 1999.

Fadool started his career in construction working as a field engineer and quality control technician while attending LTU. He has held many positions, including project engineer, estimator, project manager, and vice president, in addition to being responsible for national preconstruction services and information technology. At age 29, he became project manager of the largest project the company had undertaken to date. Shortly thereafter, he was named vice president for construction.

Named one of the 40 Under 40 by Crain’s Detroit Business in 1998, Fadool served as the leader of a team within Skanska that developed an industry-leading Ethics Roadmap. The roadmap provides the means for a business to practically assess its ethical position through the lenses of culture and behavior.

Fadool has been very active in philanthropic activities, including organizing many fundraising events for several local nonprofit organizations. He served on the board and is past president of Vista Maria, a large residential treatment facility for adolescent girls in Wayne County. He earned a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1982.

David W. Wright, BSME’86

David Wright

David W. Wright is founder and chief executive officer of Wi, Inc., a contract medical device engineering, design, and manufacturing company. An inventor and entrepreneur with nearly 40 years of experience, he holds more than 60 U.S. patents and has several patents pending. Wright worked with medical device companies Medtronic Cardiac Surgery, 3M Cardiovascular, and Gelman Sciences in product development and management before establishing Wi, Inc., in 2001. Located in Englewood, Colorado, the firm specializes in microfluidics, in vitro diagnostics, extracorporeal circuits, and organ transport technology.

In 2003 one of Wi’s signature products, the Organ Recovery LifePort Kidney Transporter, was named the “Best of What’s New” by Popular Science , and in 2004, it received a gold Medical Design Excellence Award. The firm also helped engineer the XVIVO Organ Perfusion System, which was a 2011 Medical Category Winner from NASA Tech Briefs .

Wright invented his first neurosurgical device in 1978 at the age of 20 while employed as a draftsman in the automotive industry. He spent 10 years in machine tool design and manufacturing automation for consumer durable products before joining the medical field. He had to overcome some learning challenges and attended several community colleges prior to being accepted at Lawrence Technological University. Wright credits LTU with providing him the opportunity to succeed.

Wright attributes Wi’s success to the shared philosophy that the invention and commercialization of products is based on building respectful teams that encourage creative participation from all members.