Becoming an Auto Engineer

Becoming an Auto Engineer


hi I’m Alicia bowler Davis I work for General Motors I’m the executive vice president of manufacturing and labor relations at General Motors I have a great job we get to build great cars and trucks everyday I get to work with a lot of great people and we have fun we have fun working together to solve problems my team consists of a hundred and fifty thousand people around the goal we’re responsible for building our trucks our cars our SUVs and on an annual basis we build about nine million new vehicles a year growing up I was interested in math and science I was interested in understanding how things work I used to fix the toaster I used to fix our iron I would take apart our array do anything that had electricity the more complex it was the more exciting so we didn’t have you to when I was growing up and so in order to learn how electricity worked and how to fix things I had to read so I would read different books encyclopedias I would take the information that came with an appliance and I would read that to understand how to troubleshoot and I found that very exciting to understand how things work and also to take them apart and put them back together and then see the surprise on my parents and my siblings face when it actually worked when I was in Middle School I had a teacher who said Alicia you’re great in math and science you should be an engineer and I thought an engineer that sounds cool so I walked around for a couple of years saying I wanted to be an engineer and I knew that as an engineer you had to be good in math and science but I didn’t know what else and then I had an opportunity to see an engineer in action and they were working in the automobile industry and they were working in plants they were working and designing cars they were working developing new tools and equipment and that’s when I realized this is exactly what I want to do so an engineer it was engineering wasn’t something that I saw around me every day growing up my parents were engineers my siblings weren’t engineers I didn’t have any family members that were engineers but I did have a love and interest in math and science I had a curiosity to understand how things worked so once I decided that engineering works for me I had to select which type of engineering and I chose Chemical Engineering because I love chemistry and in college as a chemical engineer there were only two african-americans at my university who studied Chemical Engineering and there were just a handful of women and that didn’t matter because everyone was willing to help and to work together because we were all learning something new and we all want it to be successful even though there aren’t a lot of people that look like me it didn’t mean that I couldn’t do it and it was just an inspiration for me to keep going because then maybe I could be an inspiration for someone else after I graduated from college I had an opportunity to come work for General Motors and when I first came to the company I worked in manufacturing engineering as a manufacturing engineer you define the process the steps that need to be taken to build a car you also have to determine what tools you need if you need a robot because something is large and heavy or you may need to have access to a part that you can’t get access with with your hands so you may have to design an engineer a robot and one of our assembly plants we can have over a thousand robots and these robots can pick up parts they can place parts they can weld things together they can apply sealer they can paint they can do many different things and they help us to build products safely and efficiently in the assembly plant things are happening all the time sometimes it comes together perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t and when it doesn’t then you come together as a team and you work on how do you solve it how do you keep things going so when I first started I had a great experience building a tool that our team members could use in the plant that will lift a battery load it into the hood without damaging anything and they could do it within 50 seconds and they could do it every time and when we first built the tool it didn’t work very well it was awkward to use you would drop the battery sometimes or you may hit another part over several days we were able to improve the tool to where they liked using it and they were able to use it every time the great thing about engineering even when bad things happen you can work together to find a solution there’s always a way to make something better and to solve a problem and so you just don’t give up you may need to ask for help you may have to bring more people in but you can solve a problem and that’s one of the challenging things about engineering but it’s also one of the most rewarding things so you can show an engineer’s curiosity every day and what you do even as a student just asking the question why or why not asking how things are made and how you can make them better you can start doing that having an engineer and everything that you do and it doesn’t have to be building a car or taking apart a toaster it can be in the small things that you do every day how does this work and how can I possibly can make it better we have engineers from all backgrounds all walks of lives people who want to make a difference and that can be you you can do this [Music]


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