General Motors’ Guidance Leads to Students’ Professional Growth

The video below demonstrates the relationship between Mississippi State University’s EcoCAR 2 team and headline sponsor General Motors. This is MSU’s ninth year in advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTCs) and throughout that time, the team has learned the value of sponsor relationships at every level. GM is not just a background factor in AVTCs; they, along with the U.S. Department of Energy, are the heart of this competition series.

The primary purpose of EcoCAR 2 is to improve the fuel economy of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, through a re-engineering process, without compromising consumer acceptability. Not only does General Motors donate a Chevy Malibu to each team, the company mentors students to prepare them for transformation of the vehicle. The competition educates the next generation of automotive engineers by challenging students to use General Motors’ Vehicle Development Process (VDP), which directly ties in with the competition objective to offer real-world experience to college students. EcoCAR 2 gives students the opportunity to mimic GM’s process and build upon their classroom knowledge with indispensable experience

General Motors’ VDP provides students with a road map so that they can emulate the process actually followed by GM engineers, making the students’ experience representative of what they may encounter after school. “They have given us an opportunity to learn and grow in the industry that we will one day be a real part of,” said Wesley Haney, an MSU team member.

General Motors has taken a personal interest in the MSU team. Because of the size of a sponsor such as GM, it is easy for the relationship to become impersonal, but GM has made a great effort to put a face to its corporate image and relate to the students on a one-on-one basis. This has been accomplished not only by the mentors and other GM employees with whom the students interact, but also by hosting students at GM facilities so that the relationship becomes more realistic.

MSU understands how General Motors plays an extraordinary role in keeping these AVTCs and the competing teams successful. One demonstration of GM’s commitment is the mentors they’ve provided to MSU’s team throughout the years. Bill Beggs, Sarah Vano and now Gary Rushton have all helped in the growth of the team, not only in AVTC successes, but also in a professional and personal sense.

“General Motors is obviously a huge factor in the success of the AVTC program as a whole, but a lesser known story pertains to the success of the individual student at both the personal and professional level and the inspiration and motivation that they provide,” said Claire Faccini, communications manager.

From all of the students across the years and from Mississippi State University, thank you, General Motors!