Traction Summit 2017 Speakers

Meet the expert speakers from Traction Summit 2017
  • Tom Carter

    Technical Communications Director, Product Marketing Michelin North America

    Tom Carter earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1981 and then completed his Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering in1983 at Virginia Tech.  Tom has maintained his contacts with Virginia Tech and served as the president of the national Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board.  For 32 years he has practiced engineering with Michelin Americas Research Center mainly in product development.  Beginning in 1992, he spent 4 years with Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand, France also in product development.  He has been involved in the development of products ranging from large truck tires to European winter tires and performance tires for Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and other luxury-performance sedans.  From 2006 to 2007 he directed the Michelin Design School in North America.  After three years working to streamline and speed the Michelin design process, he spent the next four year in Concept where he directed the   Tweel Concept Team and the concept phase of the current Michelin Product – Cross Climate.  Currently, Tom is the Technical Communications Director for Product Marketing, Michelin North America.

  • Bin Chung

    Vice President of Technology Maxxis Technology Center USA

    Dr. Bin Chung is the Vice President of Technology at Maxxis Technology Center USA located in Atlanta, Georgia, which is one of the global technology centers under Maxxis/Cheng Shin Tire. His responsibilities include the oversight of NA tire development programs for the OE and RE markets including PCR/LT, ATV, MC, and BC tires, and the support to Maxxis global technical development programs. He established the Maxxis Technology Center USA in 1999, and has worked at Maxxis for 16 years since then. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the rubber and tire industry. Before joining Maxxis, he had worked at General Tire and Cabot Corporation. Dr. Chung has extensive experience in polymer/rubber material processing and performance characterization, carbon black/silica reinforcing filler application, design of experiments, product development, and project management.  He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, and BS in Chemical Engineering from National Taiwan University.

  • Al Cohn

    Director New Market Development & Engineering Support Pressure Systems International

    This veteran of the trucking industry is a graduate of the University of Illinois in chemical engineering. He spent 28 years with      Goodyear Tire based in Akron, Ohio in a variety of assignments related to commercial tires including compounding, design, chief engineer field engineering, and technical marketing manager. He also spent 3 years working for Goodyear in Luxembourg, Europe.

    In 2006, he joined Pressure Systems International (PSI) out of San Antonio, Texas as Director New Market Development & Engineering Support. PSI is the worldwide leader in automatic tire inflation systems for commercial fleets,

    Al is a frequent industry speaker. He is an active member of SAE, American Trucking Association, Intermodal Association of North America, and Technology Maintenance Council (TMC). Al received the Silver Spark Plug Award, TMC’s highest honor for his contribution to the industry in 2001.

    He also writes monthly articles on the subject of commercial tires for Fleet Equipment magazine, and PSI TireDigest.

  • Marcus Copperwheat

    Technical Marketing Manager Solvay Silica, North America

    Marcus Copperwheat is the Technical Marketing Manager for Solvay's North American Silica business unit.  He has spent his entire career in the rubber industry.  He has direct compounding and processing experience with all types of tire compounds and most non-tire polymers.  He has developed new products for multiple markets including military, aerospace, automotive, medical and, oil and gas.  His career has moved from compounding and process engineering to New Product Development and most recently, Technical Marketing. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University and an MS in Engineering and Technology Management from Oklahoma State University.

  • Dave Cowger

    GSSLT Lead - Tires General Motors

    Dave Cowger is currently the Global Subsystem Leader for Tires at General Motors.  In this capacity, he is responsible for strategic and technical direction for GM tires around the globe. Dave has worked for GM in the Chassis area for 31 years, most of which has been spent in tires and wheels.  His responsibilities have included leading the creation of the SAE J2452 Stepwise Coastdown Methodology for Measuring Tire Rolling Resistance and development of tires for the first GM electric vehicle, EV1.  Dave holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a Masters in Management of Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

  • Glenn Denstaedt

    Technical Director - Tire and Rubber Lehigh Technologies

    Glenn Denstaedt is currently the Technical Director for tire and industrial rubber applications at Lehigh Technologies and has over 30 years of experience in the Tire related industry.  Prior to joining Lehigh Technologies, Glenn Denstaedt held senior roles in a range of specialty chemicals and performance materials companies. Denstaedt was most recently at Maxxis International, where he served as Section Head, Materials and Testing Development, investigating the properties of rubber compounds used in tires. Previously, he was at Cabot Corporation, where he provided technical service for carbon blacks for the tire market.  Prior to Cabot, as a senior engineer, Glenn worked at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in OTR and PCR compound development.  Glenn graduated from Oakland University with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry, ACS Chemistry Certification.

  • Judy Douglas

    Head of NA Technical Service and Development Arlanxeo

    Dr. Judy Douglas has the privilege of working with an amazing team, as head of ARLANXEO's Technical Service and Development group in North America handling polybutadiene (BR), copolymers of styrene and butadiene (SBR) and butyl elastomer products in the Tire and Specialty Rubber (TSR) business unit. Judy started her career 19 years ago with Bayer Inc. as a Research Scientist in the Polybutadiene Technology department in Sarnia, Ontario Canada.  Dr. Douglas has progressed through various roles of increasing responsibility in Canada and the US. These include research and development (R&D), technical service and sales account manager, as well as customer service, pricing and supply demand management for synthetic rubber. Judy is passionate about finding elastomer solutions which address market needs, as well as resolving customer challenges. She received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. from Carleton University in Ottawa, ON, Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends while traveling and at home in Pittsburgh, PA. 

  • Hermann Erdmann

    CEO REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa)

    An entrepreneur and businessman, Hermann Erdmann has extensive experience in the manufacturing and retail sectors having served on a number of industry-related boards.

    Erdmann's interest in environmental sustainability, transformation and empowerment of the previously disadvantaged resulted in the establishment of REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa), and the development of the first approved Industry Waste Management Plan.

  • Mitchell Hicks

    Tire and Brake System Specialist, Advanced Development Engineering Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

    As the advanced vehicle dynamics tire performance specialist at FCA, Mitchell has responsibility for specifying tire sizes & force and moment targets for future vehicle programs along with correlation for MF, SWIFT and Ftire models to objective vehicle measurements during development. With a background in OE tire development at FCA, he has a concrete understanding of subjective tire evaluation and interaction with tire suppliers during vehicle development. Mitchell has undergraduates in Automotive Engineering and Business Management from University of Ontario Institute of Technology. 

  • Bruce Lambillotte

    General Manager – Akron Labs Smithers Rapra

    As General Manager of the Akron Laboratories, Mr. Lambillotte is responsible for analytical and physical properties testing areas of Smithers Rapra, NA. In addition, he also serves as Smithers Rapra's Senior Technical Consultant, responsible for product and process-specific technical consulting activities involving polymer products. These activities include performance analyses, formula reconstructions, failure mode analyses and product development.

    Prior to joining Smithers Rapra, Inc., Mr. Lambillotte was employed by Continental General Tire Inc. in various product development areas. He has worked in the rubber industry for 41 years. He holds a Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry and an MBA from the University of Akron.

    • USA
  • R. Christopher Napier

    Elastomers Applications Engineer, Global Specialty Polymers Technology ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

    R. Christopher Napier is currently a Global Specialty Polymers Applications Engineer with the ExxonMobil Chemical Company located in Baytown, TX.   Chris began his career with Westinghouse’s polymer electrical products division in Nashville, TN.  He has more than 20 years of experience in the rubber and plastics industry. His primary focus at ExxonMobil Chemical is tire technology and product testing for butyl polymers. He received his Bachelor degree from Letourneau University and is active in the Rubber Division, American chemical Society serving as the chairman of the Best Paper Committee in 2009-2010 and as a member of the program Planning Committee. Chris is a member of the ASTM F-9 Tire committee and D-11 Rubber committee.

  • Gene Petersen

    Tire Program Manager / Automotive Test Center Consumer Reports

    Eugene A. Petersen graduated from Norwich University as a member of the Corps of Cadets with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Gene has over thirty-eight years of experience in tire testing, working for Armstrong Rubber Company and Pirelli Tire, and presently at Consumer Reports for the last twenty-one years out of the Auto Test Center in East Haddam Connecticut. His current position is Tire Program Manager and is responsible for testing and reporting tire performance ratings through various Consumer Reports publications.

  • Dr. James A. Popio

    Vice President of Operations - North America Smithers Rapra

    Dr. James A. Popio is Vice President of Operations -  North America of Smithers Rapra and Smithers Pira in the United States. Prior to this he was Vice President and General Manager of Smithers Rapra and Smithers Pira in the United Kingdom; and before that he was General Manager and Director of Engineering at Smithers Rapras’ Ravenna Laboratory in Ohio. 

    Jim has worked with the tire and rubber industry for 20 years and has spent his professional career working for and/or with tire companies, tire dealers, automotive OEMs, industry suppliers, manufacturers, standards organisations and government agencies.  

    Jim has extensive experience in tire performance, characterisation, and methods development. His specialist areas of expertise are force and moment, endurance, aging, compliance, indoor wear, rolling resistance, and characterisation for modeling. Jim is a regular contributor to industry journals as well as a chair and speaker at major tire and rubber conferences. 

  • Madhura Rajapakshe

    Test R&D Project Engineer Smithers Rapra

    Madhura Rajapakshe joined Smithers in 2012 as a Tire Technology Research Associate. He now provides project management, test program/proposal development, and research expertise in the areas of tire rolling resistance, durability, tread wear, traction, and footprint mechanics to a multitude of clients in the government, raw materials, fleet, tire and vehicle manufacturing industry sectors. He also specializes in software development for testing, data processing, and process improvement.

    Expertise: Whole Tire Testing 

    Qualifications and Professional Accreditation

    Madhura received his B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka in 2006. He became a research/teaching assistant at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida in 2007, where he conducted his graduate research on modeling, testing and standardization of tire/pavement friction. Madhura graduated with Master of Mechanical Engineering and Ph.D. degrees from the University of South Florida in 2011. His dissertation title is “Physically Meaningful Harmonization of Tire/Pavement Friction Measurement Devices”.

    Madhura is a member of several professional organizations including the tire society and the ASTM F09 committee on tires. He has contributed to a number of technical articles and presentations in tire, rubber, and testing related journals and conferences.


  • Woody Rogers

    Product Information Specialist Tire Rack

    As Director of Tire Information, Woody leads the team that works to understand how the hundreds of tire lines from over 20 brands fit in the marketplace, position on the Tire Rack product screen, and perform in the real world. Woody uses a hands-on approach to dig into the details of how tires do what they do when in the hands of consumers. Always curious about how tires work, Woody works to understand the driver-tire relationship by combining his 17 years at Tire Rack with a B.A in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, nearly 15 years in retail sales, management and marketing with a passion for driving. All of this culminates in managing Tire Rack’s in-house tire testing program, supporting Tire Rack’s product-focused marketing efforts, and leading product and technical training for over 100 sales and customer service representatives. 

  • David Rohweder

    Global Chief Engineer, Tire, Wheel & Jack Systems Ford Motor Company

    Mr. Rohweder is currently the Global Chief Engineer for all Tire and Wheel Systems at Ford Motor Co. His responsibilities include the oversight of all tire and wheel engineering actives worldwide, which includes the development of global standards, analysis methods, and product strategic plans to support Ford's Business Plans. He has worked at Ford over 20 years on vehicles ranging from the Fiesta up to Heavy Trucks. He has extensive experience in chassis engineering, CAE, testing and vehicle development. Mr. Rohweder has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University and Masters of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University and has completed studies toward an MBA.

  • Jay Spears

    Director of Standards and Regulation, The Americas Continental Tire

    Jay is the Director of Standards and Regulations for Continental Tire, the Americas located in Fort Mill, SC.  He is responsible for all tire regulatory and standardization work throughout North and South America and represents Continental within numerous industry organizations including the Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire and Rim Association.  Jay has been with Continental for over 15 years with leadership roles in product development, technical product management and racing development.  He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineer from Clemson University - home of the 2016 College Football National Champions.

  • Dr. Saied Taheri

    Director, Center for Tire Research (CenTiRe) Virginia Tech

    Saied Taheri is a Professor and the Director of the Center for Tire Research (CenTiRe), a joint collaboration between Virginia Tech, the University of Akron and National Science Foundation (NSF). He graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University and held positions at Ford Motor Company, TRW Automotive, Goodyear Tire, and Tehran Polytechnic Institute before joining Virginia Tech in 2007. He currently advises 12 graduate students and has in excess of 110 journal and conference papers.

  • Gregory M. Thomas

    Senior Engineer: Vehicle Performance Research - Suspension & Steering Dynamics Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

    Greg is the Technical Leader for Tire Engineering at Honda R&D Americas, in Ohio.  He has responsibility for Acura/Honda automotive and light truck tire development in North America.  Having over 30 years of tire/suspension testing experience, Greg has spent the last 24 years developing new products at Honda R&D.  After joining Honda R&D in California, and working as a Chassis Test Driver for 5 years, he transitioned to an Advance Dynamic/Product Planning role, creating vehicle concepts, as well as technology, drivetrain, brand, and lineup strategies for 10 years.  Reassigned as the Dynamic Project Leader for numerous models, he also supported tire development testing, before assuming overall tire development responsibility 3 years ago.  Greg holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.