When you follow Suresh Shah's 30-plus-year career in plastics, many of his achievements include the word "first."
Shah, a retired senior technical fellow at Delphi Corp. — formerly General Motors Co.'s automotive components group — worked with teams on the development of the first all-plastics hollow steering wheel, and the first introduced and licensed gas injection molding technology in the United States from Cinpres UK Ltd.
And on Nov. 8, Shah will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers during the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala in Livonia, Mich.
"Suresh is one of the most creative and innovative technical people that I have ever known," said Irvin Poston, an SPE distinguished member and the 2009 recipient of the society's Lifetime Achievement Award, in a news release. "He has so many innovative and first applications that have affected the bottom line of General Motors. It is difficult to list them all on one page."
Throughout his career, Shah, a member of SPE's board of directors and a councilor for the society's automotive division, has been recognized with more than 20 awards. His long list of accolades — in 2009, he was named Scientist of the Year by the Engineering Society of Detroit and also earned a tribute from former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, for example — shows that he's also earned the reputation of a problem solver whose curiosity is unwavering.
"Suresh has proven himself to be one of the best and most prolific inventors I have ever managed," said Barbara Sanders, former director of the advanced development group at Delphi Corp. who has since retired. "He developed many first-to-market applications, whose commercialization significantly impacted the profitability and growth of the company.
"He is — and has been — very visionary, significantly ahead of his time," added Sanders, who received SPE's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.