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Ford Employees Raise $1,000 for Operation Good Cheer with Pinewood Derby Tournament

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Pinewood Derby Cars Operation Good Cheer

If you’re old enough, or old-fashioned enough, to recall the days of pinewood derby racing, then this story will cut deep and melt your heart.

Ford’s user experience team this year raised more than $1,000 in funds to help bring seasonal joy to less-fortunate children as part of Operation Good Cheer. For the last decade, the team has contributed funds to the gift-giving program, organized by Child and Family Services of Michigan, with the proceeds of bake sales. For 2017, however, it took a different tack with a pinewood derby competition.

“We were trying to come up with a team-building exercise for our engineers and thought pinewood derby racing would be a fun way to have a friendly competition,” said Jennifer Prescott, Ford interaction and ergonomics harmony supervisor. “I was also heading up Operation Good Cheer for our group, so it made sense to make it a fundraiser and combine the activities.”

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To enter, engineers threw in $20 and received kits from which they built their best pinewood derby cars. A tournament ensued, crowning winners for the fastest, most innovative, and best-looking cars and delivering the donation in excess of $1,000 to Operation Good Cheer.

“I see this as one example of design thinking where we use low-fidelity prototypes and iterate quickly toward a final design,” said Jamie Forbes, Ford technical leader, interaction and ergonomics. “This is what I hear [Ford CEO] Jim Hackett talking about, and it really resonates with the skill set we have on our team.”

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