SPE: “Call for Nominations” for 50th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is announcing a “Call for Nominations” for its 50th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries, and due dates for the event’s annual Parts Competition. This year’s Awards Gala will be held Thursday, 19 November 2020, at the Burton Manor in Livonia, MI, USA.

Winning part nominations (due by 15 September 2020) in eleven different categories, and the teams that developed them, will be honoured during an evening that celebrates automotive plastics innovation. A “Grand Award” will be presented to the winning team from all category award winners.

To further commemorate “50 Years of Plastics Innovation,” the Innovation Awards Gala planning committee is working on special events to celebrate. One of the events will be a special Hall of Fame (HOF) Award honouring the top 5 most innovative HOF winners since the category was established in 1983. Instead of picking a single Hall of Fame Winner for 2020, the HOF committee will determine the top 10 from the previous 38 winners – from 1983 to 2019. Then, the HOF committee will select the top 5 to be honoured with special recognition at the event. The criteria for a HOF award is that the nomination be in use for at least 15 years and be: game changing; very successful worldwide; innovative in materials, process and application, and still being used. The HOF committee consists of engineers, managers, executives, technical experts, SPE Fellows, SPE Honored Service Members and automotive industry technical experts having served at least 30 plus years in the industry. Nominations must be submitted online via: http://speautomotive.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020-SPE-Innovation-Awards-Program-Part-Nomination-Form-V1.pdf

“This year’s event will celebrate a half century of automotive advancements enabled by innovative plastics technologies,” said Jeffrey Helms, global automotive director, Celanese Corp., who returns as the 2020 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards chair. “As this year is our awards programme golden anniversary, we selected  “50 Years of Plastics Innovation” as our 2020 programme theme. In addition to honouring innovation via awards in the different part categories as usual, we will also celebrate our 50th anniversary honouring key innovations in automotive plastics and the many benefits plastics have enabled over the years. This will include advancements in safety, including seat belts, air bags, and sensing devices – all enabled by advancements in plastics technology. The environmental benefits made possible with and by plastics, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and the growth of automotive innovations with natural and recycled materials for improved sustainability will also be highlighted. Notable innovations in plastics enabled design and styling will also be honoured. Society has and will continue to benefit from the ability of plastics to deliver form and function in unique ways through the creativity of automotive engineers and designers.”

Shown are members of the team that developed last year’s Grand Award and Body Exterior category winner – the Composite Pickup Box on the 2020 GMC Sierra LD FST pickup from General Motors. (Source: SPE)

Since 1970, the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competition has highlighted the positive changes that polymeric materials have brought to automotive and ground-transportation industries, such as weight and cost reduction, parts consolidation, increased safety, and enhanced aesthetics and design freedom. At the time the competition started, in 1970, many OEM designers and engineers thought of plastics as inexpensive replacements for more “traditional” materials. To help communicate that plastics were capable of far more functionality than their typical use as decorative knobs and ashtrays indicated, members of the board of directors of SPE’s Automotive Division created the competition to recognise successful and innovative plastics applications and to communicate their benefits to OEMs, media, and the public. Over the years, the competition drew attention to plastics as an underutilised design tool and made industry aware of more progressive ways of designing, engineering, and manufacturing automotive components. From its humble beginnings, the competition has grown to be one of the most fiercely contested recognition events in the automotive and plastics industries, said SPE.

There is no cost to nominate parts, however, nominations that are accepted into the competition need to be presented (in person or via webinar) by their nominating teams during the first round of Automotive Innovation Awards Competition judging, 24 – 25 September 2020 in Auburn Hills, MI, USA. Finalists from that round advance to a second presentation before a panel of Blue Ribbon judges made up of media, retired chief engineers, and other industry experts on 2 October 2020 (also in Auburn Hills). Winners of each part category, the Grand Award, Hall of Fame, and Lifetime Achievement winner will all be honoured during the Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on 19 November 2020. This annual event currently draws over 800 OEM engineers, automotive and plastics industry executives, and media. Funds raised from the event are used to support SPE educational programmes including technical seminars and conferences, which help educate and secure the role of plastics in the advancement of the automobile.

Current competition categories include:

  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Aftermarket & Limited Edition/Specialty Vehicles
  • Body Exterior
  • Body Interior
  • Chassis/Hardware
  • Environmental
  • Hall of Fame
  • Materials
  • Process, Assembly & Enabling Technologies
  • Powertrain
  • Safety