Previous Interviews

Brian Buchanan

Director,
Commercial Vehicle Project Planning & Engineering

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.

At ITCA, I primarily lead two Commercial Vehicle teams. The Product Planning team collects “Voice of the Customer” inputs, and helps to determine new requirements, features, and timing for our future vehicles. Then, the Product Engineering team works to design and integrate the new content into the vehicle layout.

2) What is the most important/valuable skill you need to do your job well?

Clear and efficient communication is critical. Whether your role encompasses target setting, solution creation, or implementation, it is hard to overstate the value of properly conveying your ideas and/or results.

3) How do you work to empower other employees, our customers, or Isuzu global?

It is easy to fall into the trap of simply complaining rather than developing a positive plan. I believe that our team members have the opportunity to suggest improvements, not only to the products we are developing but also to the processes used to develop them. Driving change is difficult, but we try to encourage our team members by letting them know that leadership is always open to improvement suggestions.

Robert Brancato

Manager
PVRD – Vehicle Laboratory

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.

I manage ITCA’s Vehicle Lab facilities at Plymouth and Anaheim. My work involves planning and allocating resources to execute work orders from our engineering teams, controlling our budget, and procuring new equipment and supplies. I am also responsible for conducting competitor vehicle benchmarking activities.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?

I would like to think that my management style is one that cultivates employee growth, not only as vehicle technicians, but also as CMV drivers, subjective evaluators, welders/fabricators, and electronics technicians. Our Vehicle Lab technicians have a lot of latitudes to learn a variety of jobs not offered by other R&D facilities. Other facilities require their employees to be quite specialized without the ability to operate outside of one or two areas.

3) What do you love about Isuzu?

I have been with Isuzu a little over 30 years, a long time right. I was laid off from Chryslers before coming to Isuzu so I was hoping for some stability and I guess I got that seeing how I stayed for so long. I would like to think that I have always taken care of Isuzu and its family and Isuzu has always taken care of me and my family.

Yi-Chen Zhang

Autonomous & Artificial Intelligence, Sr. Engineer
Powertrain and Vehicle Research & Development

1) What is your role at ITCA?

I completed my graduate work in Statistics at Michigan State University, but came across an opportunity in the auto industry to design algorithms for autonomous vehicles, which ultimately led to my current position at ITCA. As a member of the Powertrain and Vehicle R & D team, I design applications for autonomous driving (AD) trucks. This involves maintaining the software stack for perception, localization, and planning. I’m also responsible for components integration to ensure that the AD software is working and stable. I also get to work on improving the graphical user interface for the customer based on vehicle application.

2) What attracted you to ITCA?

l was attracted by the prospect of working on the software that we would be able to integrate directly into the hardware of an Isuzu truck. Since ITCA has its own vehicle lab that can make modifications and customize the design to meet a specific software’s needs, this actually leads to a better compatibility of the hardware and the software. I also like to see the software that I’ve developed running on the actual trucks on the test track or in the parking lot.

What do you enjoy most about working at ITCA?

I enjoy the opportunity to do things “outside the box”. We get to have a say in deciding the research topics as long as they align with Isuzu goals. I’ve also been challenged to grow in my communication skills, and I recognize the importance of this for good understanding with other engineers and our customers. I also like to know that we are contributing to technology that will reduce accidents and travel time while mitigating road congestion.

Phillip Ray

Project Manager,
Commercial Vehicle Project Planning & Engineering

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.
I am a program manager for (1) port installed options (accessories) and (2) our collaborative relationship with General Motors. For accessories, I coordinate with distributors, engineering, suppliers, and manufacturing. And I work closely with GM on our LCF (Low Cab Forward) medium-duty truck collaboration, managing the dynamic aspects of the relationship.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?
Accessories, for example, keep us relevant to the customer. We can meet very specific customer needs with the flexibility to do things we cannot do lineside. This keeps us responsive to the customer as we can more quickly bring ideas to the market. This is good for the bottom line of our business customers and for that of Isuzu.

3) What do you love about your job?
The relatively horizontal organization provides a dynamic environment with opportunity for a wide variety of experiences. I get to work together with people from all functions inside the organization, and I regularly interact with people outside, and that keeps it exciting. No day is the same.

Scott Manuel

Senior Design Lead
Commercial Vehicle Project Planning & Engineering

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.
As the Design Lead, I balance the design team’s workload both for increased efficiency and for our individual team members’ skill development. I also help problem solve design issues with our designers and engineers, and I am responsible for providing weekly management updates on program workload schedules. Finally, I manage the program math data structures and design releases.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?
By working closely with our engineering team, I have the opportunity to influence the design of components, which contributes to our high quality products.

3) What do you love about Isuzu?
Being able to physically see and touch the parts that I have been working with and then see how these components impact vehicle performance.

Steven Yarosz

Supervisor
Vehicle Compliance

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.
Being part of the Vehicle Compliance team means that I help make sure our vehicles and engines meet all government regulations. Not only do we have to work with engineering to make sure they understand the regulations, but we also need to work with the agencies on new and upcoming regulations to ensure that we capture all potential impact on our product lines.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?
Some of my responsibilities include emissions testing and safety testing of production vehicles. This allows Isuzu to be certain that our vehicles are meeting the standards for emissions and safety equipment in the real world, which ensures that our customers are safe and that we are doing our part to help protect the environment.

3) What do you love about your job?
I love many aspects of my job, but specifically, I love the interaction with customers. It is very satisfying to hear directly from customers using our trucks/engines how much they like them.

Santhosh Pasupathi

MBD & Vehicle Testing Development, Supervisor
Powertrain and Vehicle Research & Development

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.
I lead and mentor a group of Engineers & Graduate Interns to achieve Virtual Vehicle Modeling, Powertrain Electrification, & testing capabilities by utilizing advanced simulation & testing resources.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?
Our team plays a significant role in performing preliminary performance analyses of future vehicle products and current products with the help of vehicle models, which saves a lot of real-world testing time. We also leverage our MBD capability can be used to significantly improve product quality and reduce development time largely.

3) What do you love about your job?
What I love about my job is the collaborative environment we have here and the opportunity I get to work on multiple projects, so it is a great learning experience. Now that the Automotive Industry is going through a transformation phase, making room for Electric Powertrains and ADAS features, this situation challenges every engineer. ISUZU takes these challenges seriously and does its best to keep up with the market from both Technical and Product Development sides; I enjoy being part of such a transformation.

John Balger

Test Technician II
Powertrain and Vehicle Research & Development

1) Describe what you do in one or two sentences.
I run the day-to-day operations and maintenance activities for the chassis dyno lab and clean room at ITCA in Plymouth. I also provide support to other groups throughout the company as well as support out in the field when needed.

2) How do you see your job making a positive impact in the lives of others?
Our group plays an integral role in developing and certifying our medium-duty product line to provide quality products for our consumers. Happy customers mean continued employment here at ITCA.

What do you love about your job?
Versatility. We are not limited to one specific job function or role. We have the freedom to work in many different areas on a variety of different projects, resulting in continued skillset growth over the course of our careers here at Isuzu.

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