Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with three students who are members of teams representing their schools in the Challenge X design competition to develop advanced hybrid propulsion systems by re-engineering GM Equinox crossover vehicles.
The gathering, held at The MathWorks (one of the competition's corporate sponsors and engineering software provider) reminded me of how valuable hands-on engineering experience, while still in school, was to me in my career. Programs like summer jobs and co-op assignments put student engineers in the real engineering world. The Challenge X competition takes that experience even further by being a year-round effort for three years, giving the students long term exposure to a goals-oriented project environment.
The enthusiasm and the expertise demonstrated by the students that spoke with meMike Wahlstrom from the University of Waterloo (Canada), Matt DeVries from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Marc Meckler, from Ohio Stateimpressed me. Their tales of problems with vendors, late-night testing right up to deadlines, and design decisions, successes, and blind alleys served to validate the idea of the competition to provide not only experience but to gain that experience doing ground breaking work.
Going into the final academic year of Challenge X, the engineering communityfrom industry and academia to governmentshould be impressed with the outcome.
Thanks go to the sponsors of the Challenge X for their time, expertise, technical and financial support, and their enthusiasm as well.