In a press release issued by the University of Notre Dame earlier this week, it was announced that John DeSalle, president of Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., and vice chairman of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority has been appointed the first executive engineer in residence within the University of Notre Dame’s newly created iNDustry Labs.
Initiated earlier this year, iNDustry Labs is a University-wide platform designed to connect cutting-edge research facilities, experiential learning programs and dedicated expertise to regional industry and educational partners.
As an anchor of the South Bend – Elkhart Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network, iNDustry Labs supports the network’s aim of creating a competitive advantage for businesses in the region, and will serve as a front door to the University for industry partners and other LIFT Network members. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership will lead the strategic facilitation and matching of regional and county-level education and workforce organizations with companies that seek to adopt digital transformation practices through workforce training, industry recognized training, and postsecondary credentialing initiatives for the purposes of developing future-ready talent within companies intent on answering the call for industry advancement.
LIFT was established in April with a $42.4 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to spark a more prosperous, resilient and skilled region.
As an executive engineer in residence, DeSalle will serve as a translator and bridge builder who will regularly visit companies, articulate industry challenges and identify available resources through the LIFT Network to help drive regional industry advancement.
“I am thrilled that someone with John’s experience, insight and judgment is going to be joining us in this adventure,” said Thomas E. Fuja, interim dean of the College of Engineering and faculty director of iNDustry Labs. “He brings a depth of understanding of the local community and what it means to be operating a business in this environment that will be absolutely vital to making LIFT/iNDustry Labs the success we know it can be.”
Executive engineers in residence are envisioned as professionals with deep experience in advanced industries who may have existing relationships in the region and who draw upon both deep technical and business expertise. DeSalle fits that profile perfectly.
DeSalle began his career with Hoosier in 1988, developing radial race tire technology. Over the years, he took on more responsibilities, including managing all of Hoosier’s tire engineering, environmental/safety/health activities, plant engineering, employee training, test labs and plant scheduling. In 2010, he was promoted to vice president of engineering and manufacturing, and in 2016 he was appointed president of Hoosier when the company was acquired by Continental Tire the Americas.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with such hardworking, dedicated and wonderful people,” DeSalle said. “I’ve enjoyed working with everyone on the team and I’m especially proud of our accomplishments over the years.”
In recent years DeSalle has dedicated his time to serving on several regional nonprofit boards responsible for local economic development and quality of life. In 2015 he was appointed to the Regional Development Authority board as the representative of Marshall County, working closely with others who share a common goal of making the region a better place to live.
“We appreciate John’s dedication to Hoosier and his leadership; without him Hoosier would not be where it is today,” said Jochen Etzel, chief executive officer of Continental and Hoosier. “John’s passion for the betterment of the local community is exemplary. The opportunity for him to channel this passion alongside his business and leadership skills in this new role at Notre Dame is a great fit. I look forward to seeing what John will do in this capacity and the positive impact his efforts will bring to the community.”
Based in Lakeville, Indiana, Hoosier supplies tires for most racing applications throughout the world, with an emphasis on high performance and quality.
“I’m a firm believer in our region and the great people who live and work here,” DeSalle said. “I’m excited about the unlimited possibilities of the LIFT Network and iNDustry Labs and their potential to further transform this South Bend – Elkhart region that we call home. I look forward to contributing and working with the University of Notre Dame and others who share these same passions.”
Pete McCown, chairman of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership board of directors and president of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, added: “I am so pleased to learn that John DeSalle has been hired as our first executive engineer in residence for iNDustry Labs. John has a stellar reputation in our region and has demonstrated his commitment to advancing the South Bend – Elkhart region through his involvement with both the Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership.”