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K Venkatesh Prasad [1984/MS/EE], Ford Motor Company

K. Venkatesh Prasad is the leader of the team responsible for research and architecture of electrical, electronics and embedded software technologies. Member of Ford’s 12-person global Technology Advisory Board, chaired by the CTOAs the group and senior technical leader of Vehicle Design and Infotronics for Ford Research and Innovation, the birthplace of Ford SYNC®. K. Venkatesh Prasad is Ford’s “What’s Next” guy, responsible for the research, architecture, standards, applications development and vehicle system integration of electrical, electronics and embedded software technologies.

Before joining Ford Motor Company in 1996, Prasad worked as a senior scientist at RICOH Innovations in Menlo Park, Calif., developing automatic “lip reading” as a novel human-machine interface. In addition, he was at Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where he worked on the world’s first telerobotic visual surface inspection system to help design the International Space Station.

As Ford’s ‘What’s Next’ guy, Prasad in the late 1990s was imagining the vehicle as a software platform where features and services could be beamed in from the outside – without incremental built-in hardware. This was during the time when others were hot to find better ways to build in phones and trunk-mounted six-disc CD changers.

Prasad earned a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., in 1990, and a master’s degree from Washington State University, Pullman. Before coming to the U.S., in 1984, he obtained engineering degrees from IIT-Madras (1984) and NIT-Trichy (1980). Prasad lives with his wife and daughter in Ann Arbor, Mich., and they enjoy hiking the world – mostly in the wild outdoors