When you’re tasked with making high-level decisions about the electronics people will find in their vehicles, it helps to have an unbridled enthusiasm for your subject matter. Jim Buczkowski has exactly that kind of passion.

Buczkowski, a 30-year Ford veteran, is director of Global Electrical and Electronics Systems Engineering for Ford Motor Company. In that capacity, he leads the team responsible for all electronics on Ford vehicles, including taking a concept like Ford SYNC® and developing the built-in hardware and software needed to make it work.

And there’s a good chance that, if he weren’t doing it for a living, Buczkowski might be working on similar projects as a hobby.

“With the help of the Internet, I hacked my first TiVo to add extra disc space for more storage,” noted Buczkowski, a subscribed beta tester for not only TiVo, but Slingbox and Microsoft Windows – Vista and Windows 7. “I find these projects a great outlet to learn and understand the latest and greatest technology and how the technology may apply to my job at Ford.” His ultimate man cave at home includes a plasma TV that can receive streamed audio and video from any of the six computers in his house, a networked hard drive that contains videos and music, and a couple of TiVos.

Buczkowski’s drive for seamless connectivity at home extends to his work with Ford vehicles, including innovations such as SYNC, voice-activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link™ and the all-new MyFord Touch™ and MyLincoln Touch™ driver connect technology.

“Our focus is on taking electronics and computer technology and applying them to cars and trucks and making the vehicle an extension of your home – connected, comfortable, convenient, productive and safe,” said Buczkowski. Through the handiwork of Buczkowski’s team, Ford SYNC is the industry’s first system to seamlessly integrate a variety of technologies to provide hands-free phone operation, media player control, emergency assistance, diagnostic and information services, as well as traffic reports and directions on the road.

The technologies that support these features include voice recognition, text-to-speech, Bluetooth® and USB connectivity, an external and Internet-based information network, data-over-voice technology and a suite of off-board services with voice portal, text messaging and many more.

Some of his team’s latest work involves helping Ford redefine how customers react and interact with a vehicle’s controls and displays, resulting in the new MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems. The project required examining not only more natural and conversational voice-recognition technologies, but playing with the idea of more configurable controls that can adapt to a wider range of customers.

Prior to MyFord Touch, Buczkowski’s team created the first Ford breakthrough in the human machine interface arena, the SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide instrument cluster, which launched on the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid; an enhanced version has migrated to the new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

“It’s all about creating a truly rich driving environment with no compromise in connectivity – where everything you expect will be at your fingertips or voice command, integrated into your drive with minimal distraction,” he said.

Personal Insights and Fun Facts

  • Buczkowski has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan
  • Jim has six computers at home that stream audio and video to a plasma TV
  • An avid tinkerer, Buczkowski is a beta tester for TiVo, Slingbox and Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Aug. 24, 2010  (From media.ford.com. Not for personal or commercial use.)