Lawrence Tech honors automotive industry legend
Friday, April 29th, 2011
Lawrence Technological University has named the main conference room in the College of Engineering in memory of Lewis C. Veraldi, an alumnus who led the development of the Ford Taurus. The dedication ceremony was held April 14 in the Engineering Building lobby.
Veraldi earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Lawrence Tech while working at Ford Motor Company. He was also a graduate of the Henry Ford Trade School, and many members of its alumni association attended the dedication ceremony.
Veraldi was perhaps best known as the pioneering creator of the car team development approach that in 1986 introduced the original Ford Taurus that became America’s top-selling car. The chairman of Ford at the time, Donald Peterson, said, “Mr. Veraldi helped to change the world’s perception of American-made cars.”
As a result of the Taurus, Ford’s market share jumped over 4 percent and the company returned to profitability. The Taurus received Motor Trend’s 1986 Car of the Year award, and Veraldi was named the 1987 Man of the Year by Automotive Industries Magazine.
After graduating from the Ford Trade School, Veraldi joined Ford in 1949 as a draftsman before advancing to many key leadership roles during his career. In Europe, he led the development and launch of the highly successful Ford Fiesta.
Continuously diverted by his work schedule, he labored through 18 years of evening classes to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Lawrence Tech in 1968 as he simultaneously juggled the demands of work and home, where he was the father to six children.
Veraldi was vice president of product and manufacturing engineering at Ford when ill health forced his retirement in 1989 at age 59. He died in 1990.
Lawrence Tech was founded in 1932 in a building owned by Ford Motor Company near its famous production plant in Highland Park, so it had a special relationship with the Henry Ford Trade School, which was created by Henry Ford. Many early Lawrence Tech students were graduates of the Henry Ford Trade School.
“We share a mutual champion in Henry Ford, who was key to establishing both organizations,” said Maria Vaz, provost at Lawrence Tech. “Our steadfast commitment to the theory-and-practice approach to education advocated by Mr. Ford continues to distinguish the Lawrence Tech educational experiences of today.”