John Kenney

I research how vehicles can communicate with each other and with other things, such as traffic signals. We want to use communication to allow your car to track its neighbors and avoid collisions. It is very rewarding working on a project that can save lives. My special field is wireless communication and computer networking protocols. This includes a wide range of things like how to communicate with vehicles you can’t see and how to change the communication dynamically when a channel is congested. A typical day for me is really busy, which makes it fun. I represent Toyota ITC in a number of external organizations, like the Vehicle Safety Consortium, various international standards, and university collaborations, so I spend some time each day in meetings with these groups. I also manage several internal projects, and I spend time with my colleagues discussing the latest research results and plans for future projects. We also like to publish our results, so on any given day we are usually working on drafts of papers. Sometimes we test prototype equipment in our research cars. Sometimes we work with computer simulations. And sometimes we work on equations with paper and pencil, the old-fashioned way. One thing is certain: every day is different. I really like the fact that my supervisors give me a lot of flexibility in how I do my work. They set ambitious goals and trust me to figure out how to meet them. I’m surrounded by some of the smartest people I’ve met, and that makes the environment fun and stimulating.

I’ve always tried to balance my work life and my family life. My wife and I have four great kids, and I’ve loved watching them grow up and become adults. Outside of work, I like to read, watch sports, and go for walks. I also like to travel. I’m interested in history and politics. A few years ago I took a break from engineering and became the manager of a political campaign, which I’m glad to say we won. I also enjoy teaching, which I did part time at a university for many years before I moved to California to join Toyota ITC. I hope someday I can return to teaching.