ADAM CHRISTIAN: HANDS-ON ENGINEER LIVING HIS LONG-TERM DREAM
Adam Christian, ICE Engineer
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- At 14, Adam Christian envisioned his goal of designing engines for Ford Mustang
- An Ohio native, Christian was profoundly influenced by his uncle, an engine builder and drag racer
- Christian fabricated prototype 5.0-liter exhaust manifolds, after-hours, in his home workshop
Intake, Combustion and Exhaust (ICE) Engineer Adam Christian read an illustrated Mustang history book at the impressionable age of 14 that set a course for his career.
“Learning that Lee Iaccoca had earned a master’s degree, on top of his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, I decided that would be my path, too,” Christian reflected.
As a teen, Christian spent considerable time with his uncle, an engine builder and amateur drag racer. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, he stayed close to home for college. At The Ohio State University, he earned both an undergraduate degree as well as a master’s in mechanical engineering.
“Throughout college, cars and engines were always my passion,” said Christian. “Between drag racing with my uncle and getting involved in road racing with some college buddies, my passion for cars is what kept me on track.”
During graduate work at OSU, Christian was mentored by Professor Ahmet Selamet, a specialist in internal combustion flow characteristics, thermal dynamics and heat transfer. In addition to participating in Selamet’s Ford-sponsored research work, Christian was exposed to a pair of Ford-supplied dynamometers and a 1940s-vintage Ford flow bench. He was hooked.
After graduate school, Christian hired in with the Ford College Graduate (FCG) program. Part of his FCG rotation was spent with Ford Racing engineers, where he contributed to Ford’s NASCAR restrictor plate program. He also took instruction from a top-ranked exhaust header fabricator at Roush-Yates Racing Engines.
Although Christian has only been with Ford for five years, he has observed significant and positive cultural changes in the organization.
“When I arrived, the conversation was all about the competition,” he said. “Now, the customer is our unwavering focus. For veteran engineers, and relative newcomers like me, this has been both inspiring and empowering.”
Christian is proud to be part of a team that has contributed to across-the-board improvement in Ford’s powertrain portfolio, with each successive new engine delivering more power and increased fuel economy compared to its predecessor.
“Working on an icon like the 5.0-liter Mustang engine is the realization of the dream I’ve nurtured since the ninth grade,” said Christian. “This engine – 412 horsepower with refinement and improved fuel economy – is for our Mustang customers and fans. They own it, not us.”
Living a dream can make an engineer careful what he wishes for.
“The greatest obstacle we faced on the 5.0-liter was getting the fabricated exhaust manifolds into the program,” said Christian. “Initial supplier prototypes failed to meet program objectives, and we were running out of time. Computational Fluid Dynamics Analyst Beth Dalrymple and I quickly finalized the computer-aided engineering (CAE) design and I built the prototype manifolds in my home workshop.”
Christian’s handcrafted manifolds were instantly installed on a development engine and dynamometer-tested, yielding an incremental increase of 6 horsepower and 14 additional ft.-lb. of torque. The home-grown headers became benchmarks for production pieces. The entire process took two weeks.
While Christian already owns two vintage Mustangs, he intends to purchase a 2011 Mustang GT with the new 5.0-liter V-8 as soon as it becomes available.
“This engine has so many attributes,” said Christian. “It’s got a broad, useful torque curve, high specific output and high technology. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) allows us to have our cake and eat it, too. Ti-VCT, the 11:1 compression ratio, aggressive fuel shutoff on closed throttle – all combine to allow this engine to deliver unexpected fuel economy.”
Christian is married and in his spare time works on his vintage Mustangs, continually striving to optimize their performance.
“I’m lucky to contribute to the Mustang 5.0-liter program,” said Christian. “Like so many of my teammates, my profession and hobby are truly the same magnificent obsession.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Adam owns two vintage Mustangs, including a modified 1966 Coupe – his first car
- He is assisting, pro bono, in restoration of a museum-owned 1966 Ford GT Mk. II A
- Adam is an annual ICE guest lecturer at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology
- His dogeared copy of Modern Compressible Flow is seldom out of his reach
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 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.