Where Are They Now: University of Tennessee – Knoxville’s Mitchel Routh


Mitchel at a UT-Knoxville EcoCAR 2 outreach event

Team Tennessee’s Mitchel Routh enhanced his education by spending countless hours working to design a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) for the EcoCAR 2 competition. Routh worked on Team Tennessee’s PHEV design and vehicle throughout Year One and also assisted the team during the summer of 2012. He served as the controls team lead while he was a graduate student in mechanical engineering at UT which led him to a career at General Motors working as a controls test engineer – high voltage energy management. He is now responsible for aiding the testing and development of all the control strategies concerning high voltage components within the General Motors fleets.

Mitchel’s transition from EcoCAR 2 into a full time position working for GM was almost natural. He states, “EcoCAR taught me the vehicle development process (VDP) on how industries bring a car from the drawing boards to reality. It showed me the value of countless hours of design and simulation that allow developers to optimize the vehicle’s performance in desired areas.” The VDP used in EcoCAR 2 provided him with valuable skills in dSPACE’s real time systems, MATLAB/Simulink, Vector’s CANalyzer and many others. These skills and experiences allowed him to excel as a graduate research assistant and controls team lead to UT’s EcoCAR 2 program, and he was able to take this knowledge with him to GM.

Not only did Mitchel gain the ability to excel as a controls test engineer, but he was also an inspiration to the team. His designs and motivational tactics have given the team dynamic expectations that will drive success. He states, “I have often equated EcoCAR 2 to jumping out of an airplane with nothing more than some silk worms and needles and having to create your own parachute before hitting the ground. In order to make the project a success, team leaders must not only know how to manage their own time efficiently, but also how to optimize work assignments for team members such that they can also work efficiently.”  His efforts were proven effective when the team was able to obtain a perfect score on a report during the first year of the competition.

Mitchel also worked diligently to ensure a thriving outreach program before he graduated from the team. His work and dedication to reducing emissions and petroleum use in the automotive industry inspired his sister, Katelynn Routh to take on the role as communications manager for Team Tennessee. His enthusiasm and knowledge motivated Katelynn to develop technical communications skills and learn about the team’s vehicle design in order to develop a successful communications program.

Mitchel’s transition into the automotive industry has been successful because of his experiences in advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTCs), and his legacy with UT’s EcoCAR 2 team will be beneficial and memorable for the team as the designs are implemented into the Chevy Malibu and refined to showroom quality.