Leslie Kilgore, VP of engineering for school bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses, received the Rodica Baranescu Award for Technical and Leadership Excellence in Automotive Engineering.
The award from SAE International, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, celebrates women in commercial engineering. It is awarded annually to one woman in each of three categories: Automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicles. It is named for Dr. Rodica Baranescu, a Romanian-American mechanical engineer, international public speaker and retired professor whose “research leading to effective and environmentally sensitive diesel and alternative-fuel engines and leadership in automotive engineering,” resulted in her 2001 election to the National Academy of Engineering.
Kilgore, who has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and is currently working on a master’s degree in public administration and public policy, joined Thomas Built Bus in late 2016. She led the development of Jouley, the company’s first Type C electric school bus, which debuted at the National Association of Pupil Transportation Summit last November. The vehicle is expected to be available in a production model by 2020.
She is currently working on improving and expanding Thomas’ BusWise suite of technologies for school bus safety, maintenance and fleet management.
“Her tireless dedication to making smarter, safer and more efficient school buses, and to bettering the community, can be felt far beyond the Thomas Built doors,” Thomas President and CEO Caley Edgerly said. “Leslie’s leadership with her team and co-workers has consisted of challenging the status quo, healthy debate, and a strong will for her team to make a true difference in the pupil transportation industry, with improved product features, enhanced safety and authentic relationships.”
Kilgore said it’s been “pure joy” to lead the school bus OEM’s engineering team and the development of innovative technologies for the entire industry. “I look forward to continuing the legacy of leadership with Thomas Built Buses and being an inspiration to women in engineering, both now and for those to come,” she added.
She said she also has a passion for helping and mentoring young women, from underprivileged or incarcerated youth to talented high schoolers.