Ford engineer Tom Watson was shocked to learn that he beat out the man behind Apple's iconic iPod to win Design News magazine's Engineer of the Year award. The 17-year veteran headed up the team that built the first American gas-electric hybrid vehicle and first hybrid sport-utility vehicle, the Ford Escape hybrid.
Watson and his team cleared many hurdles to launch the vehicle, including delivering markedly improved fuel economy, providing performance rivalling traditional gasoline-powered Escapes, and getting the vehicle to market quickly. The Escape hybrid hit showrooms just five years after the project began -- a comparatively quick turnaround time for hybrids. Of course, Ford has in fact licensed some of the technology in its drivetrain from rival Toyota, but both firms have gone on record as saying that the companies didn't co-develop the technology.
Design News magazine readers voted for Watson over four other contenders.
[Sources: Blue Oval News; Ford Motor Company]