SAE Foundation Celebration Raises Money for STEM, Honors Industry Leaders

Standing in wonder, a first grader from Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) waited patiently to present his STEM project from inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Soon he would be sharing what he learned with Jim Farley, CEO of Ford. 

Elementary and middle school students from DPSCD, Lake Orion, and Pontiac were joined by more than 400 volunteers, industry professionals, donors, and corporate partners at the 25th SAE Foundation Annual Celebration themed “Celebrating our history and preparing for our future.

Raising more than $325,000 to support SAE’s award-winning A World In Motion® (AWIM®) PreK – high school STEM education program, the sold-out event honored industry leaders for their achievements and dedication to inspire future innovators. 

Eighth graders LaHeavenly Montgomery and Cureanah Senders took center stage to kick off the event and share their AWIM experiences. “I really enjoyed AWIM this year. During the program, we learn a lot from our teachers and the volunteers who help in our classroom. This year, we participated in the AWIM Cybersecurity: Keeping Our Networks Secure challenge. It was definitely my favorite so far,” commented Cureanah. Industry volunteers were also a highlight for LaHeavenly “Whenever I got stuck a volunteer was always there to help me solve any problem that I had.”


Throughout the night, mobility professionals from more than 37 companies spanning the automotive, commercial vehicle, and aerospace industries gathered as SAE University Programs students showcased their competition vehicles including the Formula SAE® team from Wayne State University and the Formula SAE and SAE Aero Design teams from Lawrence Technological University.  

The evening concluded with a number of prestigious awards which recognized young professionals, industry leaders, and philanthropic support of the SAE Foundation’s mission

Jim Farley was presented with the Industry Leadership Award for his dedication to education and the Detroit community as seen through Ford Fund programs such as Next Gen Learning and the Emerging Innovation Zone at Michigan Central Station. Over the past three decades, Ford has partnered with the SAE Foundation, providing critical funding and volunteer support for SAE’s STEM education programs. The last several years, they’ve focused on providing AWIM throughout Detroit Public Schools.

Following the Industry Leadership Award presentation, Jim Farley sat down with Autoline Network to talk about the future of mobility.

For their tireless dedication to educating and inspiring young learners, consistent philanthropic support, and advocacy for the SAE Foundation’s mission, Dan and Robin Nicolson were recognized with the AVL-sponsored Gordon Millar Award. 

The Donald W. Ableson Award for Visionary Leadership, the highest recognition bestowed by the SAE Foundation Trustees, was given to Dana Pless for his 20+ year career at SAE, his true passion for the SAE Foundation and for STEM education, and his continued generous support as a donor throughout his retirement. 

Dr. Venkat Ramakrishnan, Technical Operation Manager of Global Propulsion Systems with Stellantis and Dr. Umar Zakir Abdul Hamid, Senior Lead Strategist with CEVT AB each received the SAE Foundation DENSO Young Industry Leadership Award for significant achievements in the mobility industry and for their potential for leadership growth.

With a focus on celebrating the history of mobility and preparing for the future, both the event and the venue took on special meaning for SAE International and Ford. From Henry Ford serving as SAE’s first vice president and one of the organization’s founding members, to Jim Farley’s grandfather Emmet Tracy once working on the Model T line, the connections and shared history were truly inspiring.

Congratulations to all of our award winners and nominees. Thank you to our sponsors including Ford and Google for making the SAE Foundation’s 25th Annual Celebration a success.  

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