Eric Heitkamp is a chief engineer and a crashworthiness technical leader in Automotive Safety of Honda Development & Manufacturing of America, LLC (HDMA). In this role, Heitkamp oversees frontal and side crashworthiness for all Honda and Acura vehicles developed in the U.S., and manages technical strategy to advance Honda's leadership in vehicle safety performance.
Heitkamp joined Honda R&D Americas in 1999 as a student intern for vehicle safety and became a full-time associate in 2001. His initial research efforts focused solely on frontal crashworthiness, and he held a significant role in the development of the 2006 Honda Ridgeline and 2009 Acura TL.
In 2008, Heitkamp became the project leader on Honda's first light truck platform research team and he was instrumental in a significant evolution of Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. He then continued with the development of the 2014 Acura MDX, which was the first vehicle built using the new platform. He also led the research and development of new driver knee airbag technology in the 2014 Acura MDX.
In 2013, Heitkamp took on the role as the crashworthiness technical expert and monitored all vehicle developments that used the light truck platform. One of those vehicles was the 2018 Honda Odyssey, for which he led research initiatives to apply enhanced front passenger airbag technology and front passenger knee airbag technology.
In July 2018, he became a crashworthiness technical leader in vehicle safety.
In 2019, Heitkamp led research that created the world's first passenger front airbag intended to address what was a newly recognized issue of severe brain trauma associated with angled frontal collisions. The innovative multi-chamber front passenger airbag technology debuted in the all-new 2021 Acura TLX sport sedan and is now standard equipment in multiple Honda and Acura vehicles. The airbag was awarded a 2020 "Best of What's New" for 2020 by Popular Science.
In 2022, he took on his current role as the chief engineer in Automotive Safety, in addition to his crashworthiness technical leader role. Heitkamp also leads vehicle research initiatives for restraint systems and vehicle structure.
In 2023, Heitkamp was awarded the U.S. Government Award for Safety Engineering Excellence at the 2023 Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) conference in Yokohama, Japan for his work on Honda's innovative multi-chamber front passenger airbag technology.
Heitkamp holds 14 patents for various safety technologies.
Heitkamp holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Ohio State University.