5 Tips for Managing an EcoCAR 3 Engineering Team

As Year Two of the competition began and the need to fill the position of Arizona State University’s (ASU) engineering manager arose, it became clear that the perfect person to fill that position was Joshua Carroll, who at the time was the Electrical Engineering Sub-Team lead.

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A natural born leader, Josh grew up playing baseball from the young age of 6, a sport where he was repeatedly elected as team captain. As a former member of the Navy with six and a half years of experience in specialized radar, navigation and GPS systems, his skill set only expanded as he honorably served his country. These are but a couple of the positions that have contributed to the character of ASU’s engineering manager.

His vast experience and dedication to ASU’s EcoCAR 3 team in Year One of the competition made Carroll the obvious choice as the new engineering manager. On the fast track to success through ASU’s 4+1 program, Josh will be completing his Bachelors of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering Systems this May, and his Masters of Engineering with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering in May 2017.

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With nearly 6 months of experience now under his belt as ASU’s EcoCAR 3 Engineering Manager, Carroll shares his top 5 tips to leading ASU’s engineering team:

  1. Attention to Detail: As a manager it is vital to understand what needs attention and what does not. Prioritization is key in knowing time lines and schedules, but understanding that you do not need to know what every single person on the team is in charge of, which brings us to tip number 2.
  2. Trust your Sub-team Leads: These are the people you will communicate and work directly with for updates and the current status on various aspects of the project. As any leadership position, always carefully wisely choose your sub-team leads. They should be honest, dependable, teachable, and determined to see the project through.
  3. Learn to Delegate: As a manager, you have to understand that you cannot do everything on your own; you cannot be everywhere at once. Learning to rely on others is often difficult, but that is why relationships with sub-team leads should be built on trust, so you know you can look to them to accomplish the tasks at hand. When your team members have completed a task, recognize and praise them for it. It is imperative to remember to praise in public and discipline in private.
  4. Time Management: The team is comprised of students who are all focused on more than just EcoCAR 3. Theses, final projects, mid-terms, exams, work, internships, etc. are all a part of a student’s everyday life. It is important to not only be aware of student’s schedules, but also the competition as a whole so that you can choose how to spend your time wisely.
  5. Communication: Communication, communication, communication! Weekly status reports are a great way to gauge where each sub-team stands in regards to deliverables and milestones within the competition. A manager ends up being two things, a mentor and a leader. Effective communication with team members allows you to gain a better understanding of their needs for both the project and personally. A healthy team is a happy team!

Josh understands that being a leader is a learning process, it takes humility and discipline. BUT, it also takes a little bit of something else. This last bonus tip from ASU’s engineering manager, Josh Carroll, brings it all together.

  1. BONUS TIP: Learn that there are times for work and times for play. You make great relationships with team members in EcoCAR 3 and when you think about it, the whole team is working towards the same goals. It is easy as a manager to send those late night emails or call someone to get something done. If it can wait until morning write it on a “To Do” list and keep work as work and home time as a time for you to relax. The team works hard to get things done, but you should also balance it out with a bit of relaxation and fun!

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