Vice President, Product Development
HeartWare, Inc.
BSME ’73, MSME ’75, PHD ’78

“Purdue Mechanical Engineering gave me a solid foundation for success in my career. I learned from outstanding professors who were international experts in their field. A strong engineering curriculum coupled with graduate work at the Combustion Laboratory gave me the tools to be successful in both the technical and management sides of engineering. It also allowed me to make the transition between the automotive industry and the medical device industry.”

Dr. Steven L. Plee is currently Vice President of Product Development at HeartWare, and is responsible for managing mechanical and electrical developmental research concerning miniaturized implantable mechanical heart pumps for the treatment of advanced heart failure. He received his education from Purdue University, earning his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1973, master’s in 1975, and Ph.D. in 1978.

Prior to his position in the medical device field, Plee was a prominent engineer in the automotive industry, tackling projects of increasing scope and gravity throughout his lifetime. He was employed at General Motors from 1978 to 1985, and Barrack Labs from 1985 to 1990. From 1991 to 2008, Plee was Engineering Director at Motorola Automotive, managing systems engineering centers in the U.S. and U.K. In his role at Motorola, he led the development of several powertrain features from invention to production; these features are currently used by OEMs on over 25 million vehicles worldwide. Plee served as Engineering Director at Eaton Truck from 2008 to 2009, where he helped develop powertrain systems to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and increase fuel economy. There he was also responsible for managing the global engineering centers of the $2 billion truck components business. He has also coauthored 39 publications on engine combustion and emission controls, and has received 21 patents involving automotive sensors, emission controls and diagnostic systems.

Plee has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions in the automotive engineering field, including the Horning Memorial Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1981, the John M. Campbell Award from General Motors for outstanding contributions to Science in 1985, the World Wide Total Customer Satisfaction Award from Motorola in 1995, the Distinguished Innovator Award from Motorola in 1997, the Forest R. McFarland Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers for contributions to SAE technical sessions in 1999, and the Business Patent of the Year Award from Motorola in 2005. He was also elected to the Motorola Science Advisory Board Associates, the top one percent of company engineers, in 1999.