An EcoCAR Student’s Reflection: My Experience with MTU EcoCAR

By Jamie Kleinendorst – MTU Outreach Coordinator

Late in August of 2010 I was approached by the leaders of Michigan Tech’s EcoCAR team who inquired about my interest in becoming the Outreach Coordinator. I have known for a long time that green energy is the future and I was very interested in getting involved with hybrid vehicle technology. I attended an information session and before I knew it, I was signed up!

At first, the EcoCAR competition was very overwhelming as I joined the team in Year Three of a three year competition. My first months were spent trying to catch up on logistics and rules to ensure I would strategically choose which areas to focus on. The largest emphasis was placed on designing a creative event to host in the community to strengthen our consumer and influencer campaigns. The First Annual EcoCAR Bundle-Up Challenge was held January 22nd, 2011. This event would have to be my favorite memory of this competition. I really enjoyed interacting with my team and seeing all my planning efforts pay off so successfully.

Jamie Kleinendorst (left) with the Michigan Tech team at EcoCAR's Spring Workshop

EcoCAR workshops are some of the most fun and important aspects of the competition. Not only do these events allow competitors to interact with and learn from other top academic institutions across the country, they are also a chance build personal relations with the sponsors of the competition.  There is no other competition that offers the career building opportunities of EcoCAR. Students have priceless opportunities to hand out resumes, obtain internships and co-ops, and build their professional skills among friends.

EcoCAR team members also have the opportunity to supply their resumes include their resumes on a team CD. These CDs are then sent to all competition sponsors. Simply by including my resume on the CD I was called for a phone interview with General Motors. After an additional phone interview I was asked to interview in person during the Spring Workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan in March. The interview led to a wonderful offer to work as a Powertrain NVH Development Engineer at the Milford Proving Grounds! Any opportunity to tour a facility as technologically advanced as MPG is amazing and it wouldn’t have been possible without my association with EcoCAR.  In the end I accepted a second offer for a job in Minnesota (which is closer to my family), but the experience of interviewing with and being involved with GM was life changing.

I really enjoyed my involvement with EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. The technical and public relation skills I have acquired will continue to help me develop my career as an engineer for years to come. I hope to stay involved with the competition in any way I can in the years to come.