Leslie Kilgore (left) of Thomas Built Buses was honored by SAE International with an engineering award named for Rodica Baranescu (right).

Leslie Kilgore (left) of Thomas Built Buses was honored by SAE International with an engineering award named for Rodica Baranescu (right).

HIGH POINT, N.C. — A Thomas Built Buses executive was recognized on Tuesday for her leadership and her technical contributions to the automotive industry.

Leslie Kilgore, vice president of engineering for Thomas Built Buses, was honored with the prestigious Rodica Baranescu Award for Technical and Leadership Excellence in Automotive Engineering by SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers). The award honors and celebrates the successes of women in the engineering profession and their contributions as leaders and technicians in commercial engineering.

Three women are honored with this award every year: one each from the aerospace, automotive, and commercial vehicle sectors. Kilgore received the award for the automotive sector.

“This distinction comes as no surprise to those of us who work with Leslie on a daily basis,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “Her tireless dedication to making smarter, safer, and more efficient school buses and to bettering the community can be felt far beyond the Thomas Built doors. Her efforts have been very intentional in developing others and herself to be their best. Leslie’s leadership with her team and coworkers has consisted of challenging the status quo, healthy debate, and a strong will for her team to make a true difference in the pupil transportation industry with improved product features, enhanced safety, and authentic relationships.”

Kilgore joined Thomas Built Buses in 2016. One of her most notable accomplishments to date has been leading the development of Jouley, Thomas Built’s first Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus. She is also working on new innovations under the BusWise Technologies umbrella, designed to make school buses safer, easier to maintain, and more efficient.

“I am honored to be awarded the Rodica Baranescu award and to now be a part of such an elite group of female engineers,” Kilgore said. “It’s been a pure joy to lead the Thomas Built engineering team as we develop some of the most cutting-edge technologies for the school bus industry. I look forward to continuing the legacy of leadership with Thomas Built Buses and being an inspiration to women in engineering both now and for those to come.”

Kilgore holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Purdue University - West Lafayette, and a Global Business certificate from Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is completing a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California - Los Angeles.

Kilgore is active in the community, serving on the board of directors of three nonprofits that serve underprivileged and at-risk youth. Her passion lies in mentoring young girls, from incarcerated youth to talented high school students, and she is tireless in her efforts to improve the community, according to Thomas Built Buses.

About the author
Staff Writer

Staff Writer


Our team of enterprising editors brings years of experience covering the fleet industry. We offer a deep understanding of trends and the ever-evolving landscapes we cover in fleet, trucking, and transportation.  

View Bio