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SPE Announces COVID-19 Category for Auto Innovation Awards

Image: OATZPENZ STUDIO/Adobe Stock COVID displayed on car dashboard
The new category highlights how automotive OEMs and suppliers adapted their processes, materials, or business to help battle the pandemic.

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is announcing a new category for its 50th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala: Automotive Plastics Industry Solutions for COVID-19. It will highlight how automotive OEMs and suppliers adapted their processes, materials, or business to support international needs for battling COVID-19.

“The automotive plastics industry developed a number of extraordinary innovations for battling COVID-19,” said Jeffrey Helms, global automotive director, Celanese Corp., who returns as the 2021 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards chair. “Protective masks, face shields, clothing, medical supplies, ventilators, and more were made possible or enhanced with plastics,” continued Helms. “We’re looking forward to honoring our industry heroes who worked together to provide fast, efficient, and effective solutions for COVID-19 at this year’s special 50th SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala.”

This year’s ceremony will be held on Nov. 10, 2021, at the Burton Manor in Livonia, MI. Winning part nominations (due by Sept. 15) in 12 different categories, and the teams that developed them, will be honored with a Most Innovative Use of Plastics award. A Grand Award will be presented to the winning team from all category award winners.

Additional categories include: Additive Manufacturing, Aftermarket & Limited Edition/Specialty Vehicles, Body Exterior, Body Interior, Chassis/Hardware, Environmental, Materials, Powertrain, Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies, and Safety. A special Hall of Fame (HOF) award will be given to the top five most innovative HOF winners since the category was established in 1983. The HOF award honors an application that has been in continuous use for 15 years or more and has made a significant and lasting contribution to the application of plastics in automotive vehicles.

During the competition phase of the event, dozens of teams made up of OEMs and suppliers work for months to hone submission forms and presentations describing their part, system, or complete vehicle module to support claims that it represents the year’s most innovative use of plastics. To win, teams must survive a pre-competition review and two rounds of presentations before industry and media judges.

There is no cost to nominate parts; however, nominations that are accepted into the competition need to be presented (in person or via webinar) by their nominating teams during the first round of Automotive Innovation Awards Competition judging, Sept. 23 and 24 in Auburn Hills, MI. Finalists from that round advance to a second presentation before a “blue ribbon” panel of judges made up of media, retired chief engineers, and other industry experts on Oct. 1, also in Auburn Hills. Winners of each part category, the Grand Award, Hall of Fame, and Lifetime Achievement award will all be honored during the Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on Nov. 10.

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