The students fanned out quickly as they hit the exhibit floor. Some gravitated toward the technical poster display. A few whipped out their cameras and started snapping pictures of the new electric car offerings from GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Still others started circulating around the display booths, picking up literature and networking with representatives from various start-up companies, government agencies, nonprofits, professional associations, and some of the world’s premiere universities.
“The networking aspect was my favorite part of the trip,” said Robert Andre Gregorio (CAEE 3rd year).
Gregorio and six other undergraduates from IIT Armour College of Engineering traveled to the epicenter of American automotive innovation—Dearborn, Mich.—in late June to partake in the 2012 IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference and Expo (ITEC ’12).
Beyond the formal conference, the students also attended a networking dinner with IIT alumni, many of whom are now working in the automotive industry for companies such as Chrysler Group, Daimler AG, and CODA Automotive.
The trip, an IIT Engineering Themes-sponsored summer activity, gave attendees the opportunity to build a professional network; listen to an eclectic mix of keynote speakers from academia, industry, and government; and attend interactive panel discussions, technical sessions, and tutorials centered on the latest advancements in the field of advanced electrification transportation.
In keeping with the Energy and Security themes, topics addressed included the current state of the electric grid system, the importance of improving battery systems, and the roadblocks to mass production and commercialization of electric vehicles.
After each activity, Fouad Teymour, Engineering Themes faculty co-director and professor of chemical and biological engineering, met with the students to discuss the information and provide context.
“The students were really engaged,” Professor Teymour noted after one of the panels. “They were excellent representatives of IIT, asking the panelists a lot of questions and adding to discussions.”
“[The conference] was a great learning experience,” said Ariana Mayorga (CHBE 3rd year). “It gave me great insight into the ongoing and future job market in this industry.”
The student attendees would like to extend special thanks to IIT Armour College of Engineering Dean Natacha DePaola, Professor Teymour, and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mahesh Krishnamurthy for their support and facilitation of the trip.