Kevin G. Forster
For his record of outstanding agricultural engineering contributions, and for his superb management career in the off-highway mobile equipment industry, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Kevin G. Forster.
Vice President and General Manager,
Carlisle Braking Systems
On being a student
I had several cousins and a brother who had gone to Purdue, so it was natural for me to go there. My dad and two uncles were farming 2,500 acres then, and we knew that higher education was required even to manage a farm.
At Purdue it was exciting for me to see how the sciences were being applied to the design of equipment and measurement systems. I did co-op work with Sperry New Holland, now Ford New Holland, and that experience was key to my education. Right away I began applying the things I was learning in school to equipment design.
My goal almost changed as a senior. Dr. Gene Haugh wanted me to continue in graduate school in agricultural engineering, and I really considered what he suggested. But I was married and had a small child, so the financial needs outweighed the benefits of graduate school. I started to work for Caterpillar. Later in night school I got my MBA.
On career and family
With the movement toward competitiveness in U.S. industry, I've been inspired to seek a continuous-improvement philosophy. It's helped me to get more involved in the human behavior side of business. In most educational systems that isn't addressed. As a student your individual performance is all that matters, but in the real world it's your team performance that counts most.
|One of the biggest challenges I've faced has to do with my family. Today, with the importance everyone places on education and doing the most with their careers, family values and relationship values are lost. As a father and a husband, I've had to arrive at a balance between going for an education, working at a job, and handling the family at the same time. My major challenge has been to balance those priorities with others such as church.||
On the global economy
I've continued to try to pick up different things, such as international finance and business, which I'm interested in knowing more about. I would encourage students to understand not only North America, which was the key when I went to school, but also now a global environment, which has widened horizons for everyone.
Promoted to vice president and general manager of Carlisle Braking Systems (leading supplier of braking systems for construction and mining, with estimated 40% market share). Has profit-and-loss responsibility for Carlisle operations in Holland, Brazil, Japan, and Poland.
Promoted to marketing and sales director of Carlisle. Oversaw worldwide efforts to market and sell braking systems to construction, mining, agricultural, and industrial equipment industry.
Engineering manager responsible for maintaining design integrity, standardization, and control worldwide. Designed and developed caliper dry disc brakes and full hydraulic braking control systems.
Joined Carlisle Braking Systems as account manager.
Engineering supervisor at JI Case Co. Managed project team that designed and developed new four-wheel-drive front-end loader.
- Worked as engineer for Caterpillar Inc., designing and developing power-train components.
BSAgE '75, Purdue; MBA '83, Indiana State.