Meet the Media: Ryan Gehm, Editor-in-chief at Truck & Off-Highway Engineering

I’m the editor-in-chief of SAE Media Group’s Truck & Off-Highway Engineering magazine and related digital products (e-newsletters, webinars, special reports, web content, etc.). We report on key engineering topics impacting medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses, as well as the construction, agricultural, mining and other off-highway mobility sectors. I also write the occasional story for our Automotive Engineering and ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering magazines.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?

Powertrain diversification is a major trend, as companies strive to meet stricter emissions regulations and advance their own net-zero and sustainability initiatives. Vehicle electrification is central to this discussion, but experts in the sectors I cover will tell you it’s not the right solution for all applications. Particularly for heavy-duty commercial vehicles that carry heavier loads and travel longer distances, hydrogen fuel cells increasingly are gaining interest. I’m also reminded often that efforts to make combustion engines cleaner should not be abandoned, because ICEs likely will remain a significant power source for years, even decades, to come. We make it a point to cover all aspects of this powertrain-diversification journey.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.

I most enjoy the stories that stem from firsthand experiences with new vehicles and their latest technologies – and the in-depth conversations with the engineers who developed them. Crawling along the Rubicon Trail in a new Jeep Wrangler years ago stands out, experiencing automatic emergency braking in heavy-duty commercial vehicles is a thrill, and getting to play in the dirt with new excavators, motor graders, etc. and tell their development story is always fun.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story, and why?

We want to deliver value to our readers, who are “industry insiders” themselves. They expect our articles to dive deep into the technical details and the development process. People’s time is precious, so I want the reader to feel like it was worth the effort – that they learned something new or gained additional insights that can help them in their jobs.  

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?

I’ve been with SAE International’s Media Group for nearly 23 years. I had a far less interesting job directly out of college, working for a catalog publisher for a year-plus prior to going to grad school for a master’s degree. And before that, I was an English and Journalism student at Bowling Green State University. A local newspaper for which I interned, The North Baltimore News (Ohio), assigned me to cover the Dayton Air Show. I got to copilot a Marchetti fighter/trainer aircraft in a dogfight against another intern and channel my inner Maverick (the resulting feature story of course referenced Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” blaring in my mind while twisting and turning in the sky). This was my first taste of the remarkable experiences journalists occasionally are afforded.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …

Playing pickleball (yes, I’m one of the millions of people in the U.S. who’ve picked up a paddle in the past year, and now I’m obsessed), walking and playing with our dog Luna (she’s a Pomsky, which is NOT a recommended breed for first-time dog owners like us – the hair and sass! – but we love her still), and spending time with my wonderful family, traveling as often as possible.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?

Familiarize yourself with our publication and the types of stories we cover. Provide enough details to give a good idea of what you’re pitching and how it’s relevant. And if you’re pitching based off our editorial calendar, know that we’re working two to three months in advance on feature stories for the print magazine.

Any pet peeves with PR people?

Being unresponsive, which fortunately is not the case with many PR folks. But when on deadline and needing a question answered or an image to accompany a story, not getting a response is vexing. A quick reply acknowledging the request and that you’re working on it is appreciated. Also, not providing relevant images or including a link to download them upfront can be frustrating. The visual aspect of a story – and in our case, technical imagery such as product cutaways – is very important.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)

Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, not far from where SAE International is headquartered, I’m a diehard Steelers and Penguins fan. I especially enjoyed the banter with fellow journalists who are Red Wings fans during the back-to-back Cup showdowns in 2008 and 2009. Musical theater has (happily) occupied an inordinate amount of my time over the past several years, as my younger daughter has fallen in love with performing on stage. We now have season tickets to the Broadway in Pittsburgh series. Hadestown I highly recommend.

Check out some of Ryan’s latest articles:

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