“When I found out I won an Alex Dow Award, it was quite a surprise. The first thing I thought of, was that my father won the award years ago too. I was so proud to receive this award and be in the same group of knowledgeable engineers and other recipients, like my dad,” said Leonard (Len) G. Fron, engineer – principal specialist, and 2020 Alex Down Lifetime Achievement award recipient.
When Len was 10 years old, his father, Leonard C. Fron, was a mechanical engineer at DTE Energy. From seeing the Fermi 1 plant in person to meeting his father’s colleagues in social settings, this became the inspiration for Len’s career.
“I would meet his colleagues at the plant or we would do these large family dinners where I would learn about what they all did for work. Hearing what they did was so cool to me and so impactful. I was already interested in math and science, and when I chose to be an engineer, I realized what a big influence meeting these people was,” said Len.
Len began working at DTE in 1981, when his father was still at the company. In 1984, Len’s father won his Alex Dow award for his work with a colleague at Fermi 2 where they developed and coordinated a program that qualified commercial-grade equipment installed in safety systems to meet nuclear industry standards, ultimately keeping the project on schedule.
“I remember thinking how proud I was that my father won this award. I was new at our company, so it was incredibly impactful since he was a huge influence on me not only becoming an engineer, but an engineer in the energy field,” said Len.
Fast forward to 2020, and Len won an Alex Dow of his own, continuing the family legacy. Len received the Lifetime Achievement award for his work in rotating equipment vibration and developing and implementing a program analyzing Main Turbine – Generator vibration and recommending maintenance work that helped eliminate plant outages and saved millions of dollars for customers and the company.
“I work with many dedicated, hardworking people. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them. It’s great to work with people who work together to solve problems without any egos or competitiveness. We share knowledge and work together. We are lucky to have this culture and these traditions,” said Len.
Len’s family even joined the presentation when his award was announced.
“My mom cried when I won. When I saw her, she showed me the old Detroit Edison Today newspaper that had my dad’s story. She was so proud of me. My dad passed away in 2019, but I know he is proud as well,” said Len.