Life After EcoCAR: Jim Motavalli Examines Recruiting and Future Careers for Students

During Finals in May, journalist Jim Motavalli (among other reporters) traveled to Yuma, Arizona to learn more about the competition and see the students and EcoCARs in action. Impressed by the team’s work, he has since published several articles about the program including, Dude, hand me that wrench: EcoCar trains young engineers to make green vehicles (Mother Nature Network) and At the EcoCar Summit: Green Car Challenges for Young Engineers (The Daily Green).

Jim Motavalli talking with Missouri S&T team lead Kevin Martin

He most recently wrote about EcoCAR in a BNET article entitled, “GM’s New EV Hiring Tactic: Sponsor College Competitions, Skim Off the Winners,” which shines the spotlight on a key pipeline for automotive recruiting – college competitions.

As Jim mentions in his piece, General Motors hired 55 graduates from Challenge X (the advanced vehicle technology competition prior to EcoCAR) and another 16 from EcoCAR, so far. As Jim points out, “There are still plenty of job openings for people with passion, a degree and the right stuff.”

He witnessed the student’s hard work and dedication in Yuma.  “On a visit to Yuma, I saw kids working well past the point of exhaustion — and  many cars in total pieces on the shop floor,” says Jim.

The GM staff also takes note of the talent, and Jim saw the payoff firsthand. Talking with Dan Mehr, who was a former engineering student at the University of Wisconsin and member of the Challenge X team, he told Jim about the days he used to put in 80-hour weeks in their university garage, sleeping there “at least one night a week.” Today, Dan works as an energy storage integration engineer at GM, focusing on the in-flux plug-in hybrid car program, and is also a mentor for EcoCAR.

Dan Mehr (right) with the University of Wisconsin's "Moovada"

In a conversation with Micky Bly, GM’s executive director for hybrid electric vehicles and batteries, right after Finals, Jim and he got to the heart of what fuels the teams to keep working so hard: “It’s a great thing to be able to step out of school and go to work on the cutting edge of the industry,” said Bly.

EcoCAR appreciates Jim’s support of the competition – A big thank you from all of us!

Do you have a favorite news story from Finals that you want to share? Post links to great stories on EcoCAR’s Facebook page or share as a comment to this blog post.