Haren Gandhi, Technical Fellow at the Ford Motor Company, has been chosen by President George W Bush for the nation's highest honor for science and technology - National Medal of Technology Laureate.
Established by Congress in 1980, the National Medal of Technology honours individuals who embody the spirit of American innovation and have advanced the nation's global competitiveness. "Their groundbreaking contributions commercialise technologies, create jobs, improve productivity and stimulate the nation's growth and development," says the White House statement announcing the awards.
President Bush will present the awards on November 6 at a White House ceremony.
Gandhi is one of Ford's five global Technical Fellows, the highest scientific position in the organization. He specialises in emissions control technology in automobiles and is one of the pioneers of palladium-based exhaust systems, which replaced the more expensive platinum-based ones, resulting in significant savings for Ford. Platinum and palladium are both precious metals, but palladium is much cheaper.
Gandhi came to the US from Mumbai in 1963 and joined Ford rather fortuitously after his Masters from Northwestern University in Illinois. He had offers from Abbott Labs, Lockheed and Ford. He picked Ford because it was the only one that offered him the opportunity to complete his PhD while he worked. He has been with the company ever since.
At present, he is working on combining cheap base metal oxides with smaller amounts of precious metals, with the aim of gradually reducing dependence on precious metals.
He was instrumental in setting up the Automotive Research Lab in Pune, India, as part of a United Nation project. As part of a training program, Ford takes scientists from Pune to its Dearborn headquarters to learn new technology.