Spark Award Recipient: Reates Curry, Ph.D.,
Ford Motor Company
For demonstrating the unique power and energy of mentorship, especially to women and underrepresented minorities who dream of changing the world through STEM.
This article was first published in the WE16 Conference Issue of SWE Magazine.
Reates Curry, Ph.D., is a technical expert at Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center (RIC) in Dearborn, Michigan. Her focus is human-machine/computer interaction with an emphasis on developing safe and efficient in-vehicle systems and technologies. She is a member of the VIRtual Test Track EXperiment (VIRTTEX) laboratory, which houses one of the world’s most advanced driving simulators. She has co-authored more than 55 technical reports, conference papers, and journal articles, and her technical achievements have twice been recognized with Ford’s prestigious Henry Ford Technology Award.
Her talent for mentoring emerged early. In 1989, her efforts in the Washington, D.C., schools were recognized with the U.S. Black Engineer of the Year Award for Community Service, and that was only the beginning. She has also mentored young men, demonstrating what women engineers can accomplish, laying a foundation for them to respect, hire, work with, and promote women in STEM. At RIC, Dr. Curry has often acted as an unofficial “welcoming ambassador” to new employees she encounters, and this mentoring aptitude has led to her most recent affiliation with Ford’s Women in Product Development mentoring circle, where she is currently officially co-mentoring nine women engineers.
On a professional organization level, Dr. Curry has recruited, mentored, and/or presented at more than 15 National Society of Black Engineers conferences. She also represented Ford as a recruiter at the 2002 SWE annual conference.
At Ford, Dr. Curry has coordinated and hosted High School Science and Technology Program (HSSTP) sessions in collaboration with Ford’s Sigma Xi chapter and the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program. She has also been a summer-intern mentor to both high school and college students.
Dr. Curry’s enthusiasm for hands-on STEM activities has led to her developing simple mousetrap car and balloon-powered vehicle kits for the HSSTP and RIC’s annual Take Our Children to Work Day, for which she recently established a “Hackathon” activity featuring multilevel, kid-friendly programming challenges. This past summer, Dr. Curry coordinated a Girl Scout volunteer trip to Guatemala where they built and repaired furniture for a preschool as well as re-plastering an outdoor wall for them.
She holds a B.S.E.E. from the University of Missouri, an M.S.E.E. from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University.
In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering as troop camper for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, and has coached her son’s Little League Baseball team. Dr. Curry, her husband, and two children live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.