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06-16-2014

SPE Automotive Names the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Dr. Norm Kakarala (figure: SPE Automotive)

Dr. Norm Kakarala (figure: SPE Automotive)

Dr. Norm Kakarala, who has had a notable 46-year career in automotive plastics at companies like General Motors Corp., Delphi Corp., Inteva Products LLC, and Uniroyal Tire Co., has been named the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). He will be honored for his role leading automotive plastics and composites innovations at the 44th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on November 12, 2014 at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., USA.

First given in the year 2000, the award recognizes the technical achievements of individuals whose work – in research, design, and/or engineering, etc. – has led to significant integration of polymeric materials on passenger vehicles. Dr. Norm Kakarala was selected as this year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner for his extensive work during a career spanning almost five decades as a technical specialist in the area of polymers, composites, and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) formulations, including adhesives, coatings, and rubber. He is well known for his work in understanding structure-property relations, and the influence of forming processes like injection molding, sheet extrusion, and thermoforming on materials. He has a strong background as a technical liaison between product development and production implementation of automotive plastics. He also has designed accelerated laboratory tests to predict product-service performance of automotive plastic components, many of which have subsequently been adopted as industry standards.

Kakarala retired last year as senior technical fellow at Inteva Products LLC (Troy, Mich.) where he received awards for TPO formulations for interior skin applications for new General Motors Co. programs, developed a soft, wrappable TPO skin/foam bilaminate for cut & sew interior-trim applications, and also validated clearcoat systems for extruded-to-color TPO sheet for thermoforming applications. Kakarala joined the company in 2008 when Delphi Automotive Systems (Troy, Mich.) spun off its interiors business as Inteva.

Among Kakarala’s significant career accomplishments, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the SPE Detroit Section (2011), he was inducted as a fellow in the Society of Plastics Engineers International (2004), he received SPE’s Honored Service Member award (2003), he received the Engineering Society of Detroit’s Gold Award for outstanding professional achievement (2002), and he received the 1999 Recycler of the Year award from the SPE Recycling Division (now SPE Environmental Division) for closed-loop recycling of TPO skins.

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