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SEMA’s John Waraniak Elected SAE Fellow

By SEMA Editors

John Waraniak
John Waraniak, SAE Fellow 2019

John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology, has been elected an SAE Fellow for his significant technical achievements and industry contributions in both automotive and aerospace. In his role as SEMA’s chief technology officer since May 2006, Waraniak has assisted performance aftermarket companies to integrate their products with the latest advanced vehicle technologies and capitalize on new business and product-development opportunities. He has also helped them to customize with confidence by connecting SEMA manufacturers with engineering resources, capabilities and tools to manage disruptive vehicle technologies and ensure compliance with the latest industry standards and best practices.

The highest grade of SAE International membership, this distinctive honor recognizes long-term members who have made a significant impact on society’s mobility technology through leadership, research and innovation. Electing Waraniak as an SAE Fellow acknowledges the role the performance aftermarket plays in the auto industry. It also helps drive new opportunities for SEMA members to grow and prosper through automaker collaboration and representation on SAE industry initiatives and task forces developing emerging standards for connected, automated and electrified vehicles.

Waraniak will be inducted into the Class of 2019 at the SAE Awards Ceremony, held at WCX World Congress Experience in Detroit, April 20. His nomination was led by his long-time mentor and good friend Dr. David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, as well as documented support from SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting and industry colleagues, including Mark Reuss, president, General Motors; Paul Mascarenas, 2019 SAE president; Roy Link, chairman and CEO at Link Engineering; and Mircea Gradu, senior vice president of product and quality at Velodyne Lidar.

“I have known and worked with John for 14 years. His accomplishments and contributions have helped automotive aftermarket companies understand the latest advanced vehicle technologies and develop solutions to capitalize on new product and business opportunities. He is most worthy of recognition as an SAE Fellow,” said Kersting.

Waraniak has been involved in the aerospace, automotive, racing and performance industries for more than 25 years with wide-ranging systems engineering experience, innovative technology insights and frontline experience for competing and winning in today’s Automotive 4.0 transformation. His leadership and contributions to vehicle dynamics testing, functional and regulatory safety compliance in the United States were instrumental in helping the Australian government and Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association with new legislation and Australian design rules and national standards for electronic stability control performance of aftermarket-modified vehicles.  

This is Henry Ford’s 1905 SAE application. The highest grade of SAE International membership, this distinctive honor recognizes long-term members who have made a significant impact on society’s mobility technology through leadership, research and innovation.

Waraniak has held executive management positions at General Motors, Hughes Aircraft, Northrop and No Fear. While at General Motors and Hughes Aircraft, he led the corporate-wide transfer of technology and best practices from Hughes to GM to deliver results for improved safety, performance, electronics and winning motorsports programs. He was one the founding members of the GM sports medicine and science program, where he helped lead the development of many of today’s race safety innovations, including the industry’s first crash event data recorders, the critically important HANS device and the first racing heads-up display adapted from military jet-fighter technology.

He was also the lead engineer for structural integrity, durability and damage tolerance design on the USAF B-2 stealth bomber program and Aircraft Structural Integrity Program with a top-secret NSA security clearance while at Northrop. He successfully predicted fatigue and fracture results and compliance with Military Standard MIL-STD-1530D and Air Force Policy Directive 63-10 for aircraft structural integrity of classified mission-critical military fighter and bomber aircraft systems.

Waraniak is a devoted advocate for professional development of engineers, next-generation talent pipelines and the digital hot-rod movement connecting generative design with additive manufacturing and spatial web platforms. He recently presented “The SEMA Engineering Story” with Ed “Isky” Iskenderian at an SAE Event in the SEMA Garage and is currently a director of the Carroll A. Campbell Jr., Graduate Engineering Center External Advisory Board at Clemson University, member of the Vision Zero Automotive Network Advisory Board and an advisor to the Indy Autonomous Challenge.

As one of the initial members of the CU-ICAR Deep Orange Program since its inception in 2008, Waraniak’s leadership has supported all 12 generations of the innovative Deep Orange vehicle prototyping program and more than 300 graduate engineers. His CU-ICAR contributions continue to help educate future automotive engineering leaders who are developing sustainable mobility solutions by balancing performance, environmental, social and economic aspects, as well as helping ensure that Clemson maintains highly competitive research and educational programs in automotive engineering and innovative strategic initiatives.

Born and raised in the Motor City of Detroit, Waraniak is an avid auto industry and motocross enthusiast. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois and Caltech’s executive engineering management program.