Female Students Get Behind Wheel of Auto Technology

Monday, February 12, 2018
Female students posing in a prop car cut-out at North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mich.

Female students enjoyed meeting auto industry leaders and Rose-Hulman alumni as invited guests at this year’s AutomotiveNEXT event as part of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Dakota Rostron grew up with a wrench in her hand as she helped her grandfather to maintain a 1948 Ford pickup truck that they took to area car shows. As she got older, she tackled more projects, learning about machine technology and developing a passion for the automotive industry.

So it’s no shock that this gearhead senior mechanical engineering student was in her element as she checked out the latest innovations at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mich.

The annual event features the future of automotive technology. As expected, autonomous vehicles were the rage this year, along with touch-pad electronics, advancing hybrid vehicle technology, safety systems and lots of personalized vehicles.

Rostron joined six Rose-Hulman female students in attending NAIAS as special guests of Inforum, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization with the goal of building gender equality in auto business leadership. An AutomotiveNEXT event showcased how artificial intelligence is changing human interaction with technology. It featured Marcy Klevorn, executive vice president and president of mobility at Ford Motor Co., and Mike Beebe, chief executive officer of Mayfield Robotics, maker of the Kuri home robot.

Rose-Hulman was the only non-Michigan college or university to be invited to have female students participating in the Inforum and AutomotiveNEXT events. The students took advantage of the opportunity to meet auto industry executives and Rose-Hulman alumni advancing technology solutions for a variety of vehicle development projects—some of them displayed at the auto show.

But one aspect of the experience that was particularly valuable to these up-and-coming engineers was chance to get some advice and insight from industry alumni.

“The best piece of advice I got came from Elizabeth Griffith, director of product development for Faurecia, who talked about being honest with her team, being herself and having open communication with everyone. That is something that I strive to do in any situation,” says Rostron, treasurer of the Team Rose Motorsports organization on campus.

An alumnus told junior mechanical engineering student Andrea Alcorn-Dominguez about how she could turn her desire of working with people into a possible career option as a sales engineer.

“This is a job field that I hadn’t realized existed. It is some of the best career advice that I’ve received,” she says. “The auto show, breakfast and alumni events were great opportunities to get advice and insight into the auto industry.”

Other students participating in the events were junior mechanical engineering major Jene Williams, junior optical engineering student Audrey Brand, sophomore mechanical engineering students Sydney Larson and Emily Malueg, and freshman electrical engineering major Kayleigh Doyle.

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