James Felkins– “During the EcoCAR competition, I served as the team lead for the MSU electrical sub-team. I was responsible for the vehicle’s electrical systems such as the high-voltage powertrain, the enormous 360-volt battery, and even the low-voltage electronics like the radio. Though I was early in my academic track and had no experience with electric vehicles, my fellow teammates didn’t hold that against me. Instead, they encouraged me and taught me all that I needed to know. As time passed, I was learning more electrical engineering through EcoCAR than in the classroom!
Midway through the competition, I was given an internship with General Motors. Many of the EcoCAR organizers I had come to know were GM managers and executives. Needless to say, I had a robust network within the company, and a great number of opportunities were available to me. Upon graduating, I was granted my request to be an interface designer for Cadillac at the GM Design Center. So far, it has been a dream job. I do fun, exciting work every day and it has a world-wide impact. I often wonder how I got so lucky to end up here. Then, I remember that it wasn’t luck– it was EcoCAR.”
Kyle Crawford-“I was a member of the Mississippi State Challenge X team from 2005-2007. My primary responsibility on the team was the implementation of the aftertreatment system for our 2.0L diesel engine as part of our diesel-electric hybrid. For that project, we used a DPF and SCR system for emissions reduction. This gave me an opportunity to work on and understand new emissions reduction technologies that would be used by GM in the future. This was directly beneficial to my career because after arriving at GM I was placed on a team that put the first GM product with SCR into production. I was able to use things I learned during the Challenge X and immediately put it to use in the workplace. This format of student competition that involves the newest technologies is a great way for students to gain practical knowledge on systems with which very few people have experience and prepares students to make a real contribution in the workplace early in their careers. I am currently working with SCR systems for GM on an international assignment in Europe. ”
Kennabec Walp-“As a member of the MSU Challenge-X team, I was lead controls developer. In addition to that, I spent substantial time doing vehicle modeling, electrical integration, testing, and calibration. While participating in Challenge-X, we had access to cutting edge industry-standard tools and facilities and the opportunity to work with industry experts through our sponsors. Before joining Challenge-X, I had not considered the automotive field as a career option, but my involvement in the competition opened a number of opportunities. I attained my current position, developing production code generation software, as a direct result of my involvement in Challenge-X.”
Amanda McAlpin– “I was on the Mississippi State University AVTC team during Challenge X. I got involved with the competition because I have always been interested in environmental projects, and serving as the Outreach Coordinator gave me the chance to see the project as a whole.
One of the most surprising things that I learned from Challenge X was the soft skills. Of course, I got experience working with the media, writing press releases, and analyzing results, but I also learned about working on a team, having a back-up plan for events, and communicating across fields; which is really what makes these competitions so unique. I now work as a Team Lead for a contracting company for the U.S. Department of Energy, and I call back to things I learned during the competition every day.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed participating in Challenge X. The design of the competition created an atmosphere for creativity, camaraderie, and innovation. I know without a doubt that my current career has benefited tremendously from being a part of that!”
Christopher Whitt– “I was part of the MSU Challenge X team for the first three years of the competition. I served as the Powertrain group leader and helped as a co team leader my last year. I was responsible for integrating our chosen powertrain components into the Equinox. My biggest single project was the design of the rear cradle that supports both the electric transaxle as well as the rear suspension of the Equinox. My experience gained during the competition was invaluable. Challenge X allowed me to put theory into practice and learn more than could ever be taught in a classroom. The competition also gave me insight into how the auto industry functions and the vehicle development process. I use that knowledge daily in my career as a vehicle calibrator at General Motors working at the Milford Proving Grounds.”
Lee Pratt – received a Bachelor Degree in Marketing from Mississippi State in May of 2010 and a Master Degree in Business Administration in May of 2012. Lee served on the MSU EcoCAR2 team as Outreach Coordinator where she coordinated the team’s marketing, recruiting, and education efforts. Throughout the 3 years that she participated, she gained extensive knowledge of advanced hybrid technologies and specifically electrified vehicles. She used this experience to pursue a marketing/communications career and currently is working in Atlanta, GA at The Clean Air Campaign.
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