Automotive engineering

Women in Automotive Engineering: Michigan Tech Girls Say “Why Not?”

Kaleigh Pare’s father is a Michigan Tech alumnus and an engineer who recruits for Chrysler. But until she joined Michigan Tech’s Women in Automotive Engineering program, Kaleigh, 17, only knew about cars how to drive one and change the oil – “with the help of my dad.”

This week, she’s participating in a summer youth program at Michigan Tech called Women in Automotive Engineering (WIAE), and she’s learning about aerodynamics, suspensions, airbags, hybridization and pollution, controls and l calibration, autonomous vehicles.

And the engines. “I had no idea how many components there are in an engine, how complex they are,” she says.

Kaleigh and her twin sister, Quinn, are both taking WIAE. The same goes for Aleeha Azhar, only her trip to Michigan Tech took a bit longer than Kaleigh and Quinn, who live in Memphis, Michigan, near Port Huron. Aleeha, 16, is from Sialkot, a small industrial town in Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab region. She is one of four students from Roots International Schools taking part in Tech’s summer youth programs this week.

Aleeha doesn’t drive and she says she didn’t know anything about cars until this week. His school offers opportunities for summer scholarship programs, including WIAE.

She says she chose it because “I felt I would be more comfortable with girls”.

women can do anything

Were Kaleigh and Aleeha surprised to find a class full of girls eagerly exploring the possibilities of automotive engineering? “Women can do anything,” Kaleigh replies decisively. “I’m not sure women can do whatever“Aleeha intervenes. “There are places in Pakistan where women are still treated as inferiors. But that is changing. My city is very progressive. And my parents are very supportive.

Programs like WIAE are key to encouraging more young women to consider automotive engineering as a career path,” says Cynthia Hodges, Michigan Tech alumnus and chassis manager at Ford Motor Company. “As an automotive engineer, I’m working on something that makes a difference every day for almost everyone in the world. There’s no better way to make the world a better place than working on cars and cars. trucks.”

GM Exec predicts a bright future

Gary Smyth agrees. Executive Director of Global Research and Development for General Motors, Smyth, was visiting Michigan Tech’s Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC) this week and took the opportunity to share some of his insights with the girls.

“It’s a great time to be a woman in this industry,” he told them. “The automotive industry is coming back to Michigan. It’s a great university; these are great courses. The automotive industry needs people with a wide range of skills: computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering. The he connected and autonomous vehicle industry alone will employ many thousands of people in Michigan.

Smyth, whose daughter, Sarah, is attending a summer youth program on small business and entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech this week, says the summer programs give high school students a sense of school culture. ‘university. “What’s really important is showing girls the opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the breadth of options in the automotive industry. They discover the impact they can have on environment and society.

Girls in the Women in Automotive Engineering course explore the inner workings of vehicles.

WIAE students learn about modern automotive technology in Michigan Tech’s mobile lab at APSRC, a state-of-the-art engineering teaching lab featuring the sophisticated technology used in the automotive industry today. This is the second year of the program. Last year it had automotive sponsors, but this year it didn’t.

The homeroom teacher is Chris Morgan, and when Morgan talks about automotive engineering, he knows what he’s talking about. He spent seven years in the automotive industry, including as a product development engineer at General Motors. He has also worked as a calibration engineer, software development engineer, validation engineer, and diagnostic strategist.

Infotainment Engineering

One day this week, he explored “infotainment” with his class. Automotive industry term for technology on the car’s dashboard – from radio and CD player to touchscreens that display information ranging from oil pressure and speed to fuel range and fuel level. volume of music being played – infotainment is the software interface between the driver and the vehicle.

After the girls familiarized themselves with the different types of infotainment systems, they embarked on a “treasure hunt,” looking for controls that changed the radio from AM to FM, displays that informed the driver tire pressure, oil life, fuel range and other vital information. They searched for their checklist of items in a Prius, a Chevy Volt, a Ford Fusion, and a natural gas pickup truck.

“We can’t find the tire pressure thing in the Prius,” complained a team of girls. “That’s good,” said Shane Severn, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student at Tech who was helping teach the class. “Because there is none.”

Morgan, who also taught WIAE last year, said the girls continue to surprise him. “I’m amazed and impressed with how insightful they are, how they’re able to stay interested and engaged even when cars aren’t really their thing,” he explains.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and enrolls more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate programs in science and technology, engineering, computer science, forestry, business and economics, health professions, science humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is located a few miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, providing year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.