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Dan Williams

Dan Williams

Director of autonomy | ZF Friedrichshafen | Class of 1985

Much of what he knows about research, Dan Williams learned from the faculty member he wooed as an engineering grad student.

So, one last time: Thanks again, Professor Metz.

“My career was made when I opened a door and nonchalantly yet precariously made my way across the tub of Roberto Guerrero’s Indy Car that was blocking the entrance. I wanted to project to the professor seated on the opposite side of his office that I was not clumsy, and also that this kind of thing happened all the time for me, and most of all that he should take me on as a graduate student,” says Williams (BS ’85, agricultural engineering; MS ’87, general engineering), a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“Having grown up on a central Illinois farm, driving go-carts, motorcycles, even a grain truck chassis up and down dirt lanes for untold hours, treating a vehicle as a dynamic system to be controlled became my passion.

“As my thesis advisor, Professor Dan Metz taught me how to approach complicated theoretical problems with practical considerations. He taught me how to plan, conduct and record research.

“Although graduate research is necessarily narrow and focused, he coached a broad perspective giving context to the knowledge he was imparting.

“I am forever grateful to the University of Illinois and Professor Metz.”